Your 5-Minute Read

You might decide to take vitamins and supplements for many reasons, including getting your daily recommended intake of nutrients or addressing a specific health concern.

Vitamins and supplements offer a range of potential benefits, from promoting immunity to helping with stress management.

But with so many choices, what should you look for when selecting vitamins or supplements for your needs? We’ve partnered with Swanson Health to provide advice on what to keep in mind when browsing the vitamin aisle.

Do you need to take vitamins and supplements? You might benefit from them if you have a deficiency. According to 2021 research, common deficiencies in the United States include vitamin D and B12. These essential vitamins play roles in bone and brain health.

How do you know whether you have a deficiency? Some signs and symptoms may include:

  • visual or skin changes
  • anemia
  • bone changes
  • neurological issues
  • blood clotting issues
  • hair loss or brittle hair
  • brittle nails
  • fatigue

Discuss deficiency testing options with a medical professional if you think you’re missing out on an essential vitamin or mineral. Testing can help identify potential deficiencies and determine why you’re low on a particular nutrient, whether because of diet or an underlying health condition.

Read more about magnesium deficiency.

When shopping for vitamins and supplements, you can take your pick from a wide range of options. The kind you choose depends on the health concern you want to target.

Here are some commonly sold supplements and what people often use them for:

  • biotin for hair loss
  • calcium and vitamin D for bone health
  • fish oil for joint health, eye health, heart health, bone health, depression, and inflammation
  • ashwagandha for stress relief
  • iron for anemia and low iron levels
  • magnesium for depression, heart health, bone health, migraine, and inflammation
  • niacin (vitamin B3) for skin health and digestive health
  • omega-3 fatty acids for heart health, eye health, inflammation, and depression
  • vitamin B12 for people who don’t get enough of it from their diets, such as vegans and vegetarians
  • vitamin C for antioxidants, skin health, bone health, and boosting immunity
  • vitamin E for heart health, eye health, and inflammation

Read more about the potential benefits of ashwagandha.

With rows of vitamins and supplements available at stores and even more options online, how can you know which options are effective and trustworthy? Here are some key factors to consider.

Safety

It’s important to consult a healthcare professional to determine which vitamins and supplements are a good fit for your needs and safe for you to take. Some vitamins and supplements can interact with medications.

A healthcare professional can also help you select the correct vitamin and supplement doses for your needs. Taking inappropriate amounts can be dangerous.

Brand reputation

Purchasing dietary supplements from a reputable brand that offers a high quality product is crucial.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t usually approve claims and labeling before a vitamin or supplement hits the market. This means it’s up to the manufacturer to provide accurate information. Unfortunately, not every brand is transparent when it comes to labeling.

One 2019 study examined the label accuracy of herbal and dietary supplements. Researchers found that over half the products tested were mislabeled.

When shopping for supplements and vitamins, opt for brands that use reputable third-party testing. Looking for a certificate of analysis (COA) is one way to ensure a brand takes the quality of its products seriously.

Some third-party identifications to look for include:

  • NSF certification: This type of certification uses strict standards to evaluate products and involves regular onsite inspections.
  • USP Verified Mark: This mark verifies that ingredients, potency, and amounts are accurate and free of harmful contaminants. It also verifies that the products are made according to FDA current good manufacturing practices (CGMPs), confirming that the products are produced in a sanitary and controlled way.
  • Banned Substances Control Group (BSCG) Certified Quality and GMP: BSCG Certified Quality verifies ingredients and checks for dangerous substances. BSCG Certified GMP audits manufacturers to make sure they comply with CGMPs.
  • USDA certified organic: Products with this certification go through rigorous review to ensure their quality and integrity meet USDA organic regulations.

Swanson Health offers a wide variety of gummies, such as magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, and multivitamins for both kids and adults. The supplements are also tested by both internal and third-party labs.

Labels

A product’s label can provide plenty of information, including:

  • Ingredients and potency: A clear list of ingredients and information about nutrient contents is important. If this is missing, that’s a red flag.
  • Fillers and additives: Watch out for supplements containing heavy fillers, sweeteners, and additives.
  • Servings and serving size: Look for the number of servings in the container and how the serving size is measured.
  • Certifications: Certifications can indicate information about the supplement, including whether it’s vegan, USDA organic, gluten-free, kosher, and more.

Read more about how to choose high quality vitamins and supplements.

The right type of vitamin and supplement depends on your preferences and needs.

Do you hate swallowing chunky capsules? Do you prefer a convenient single-dose pill? Or maybe you’re searching for a kid-friendly vitamin option.

Common forms of vitamins include:

  • Softgels and liqui-gels: Softgels and liqui-gels can mask unpleasant tastes, but they may contain gelatin, making them unsuitable if you’re vegan.
  • Tablets or capsules: Capsule shells and tablets are common and available in vegan and nonvegan formulas.
  • Liquid and mists: These vitamins and supplements are a great choice if you have trouble swallowing pills or capsules.
  • Gummies and chewables: Chewable vitamins and supplements are a great option for kids and people who don’t like to swallow capsules whole.

Vitamins and supplements may provide benefits that may help with various health concerns. When choosing the right nutritional supplements for your needs, factors to consider include brand trustworthiness, safety, and your preferences.

Before you start taking a vitamin or supplement, talk with a doctor. They can help you determine whether you have a deficiency and provide advice on supplementing safely.