If you want to feel overwhelmed, just try buying yourself some supplements.

With so many on the market, varying in price, quantity and strength, what’s seemingly an easy task can soon turn into a headache.

We asked Better You nutritionist Sally Wisbey for her top tips on choosing a quality supplement.

1. Quality and efficiency

When it comes to vitamins and minerals, there are many different forms but not all brands use the same type in their supplements. 
To explain this, Sally says: “Magnesium is a perfect example; this mineral can be sold in the form of magnesium chloride, sulphate, taurate and citrate to name a few.

“Magnesium sulfate, commonly known as Epsom Salts, can be a great constipation aid but needs to be taken with caution due to its laxative effect.  Although it’s a common form of magnesium, research has shown it is rapidly excreted via the kidneys and therefore difficult to assimilate. 

“The effects of a magnesium bath last longer when using magnesium chloride over magnesium sulfate, due to the effects of magnesium chloride being easily assimilated and metabolised in the body.”

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Instead of taking oral supplements, Sally suggests using a spray, flakes or soak, which is absorbed through the skin, bypassing the digestive system.

2. Tried and tested

“As a practitioner, when choosing supplement brands to work with, I will always ask what research has been done and what type of clinical trials the company has used to prove its efficiency,” Sally says.

“I also ask the company for information and copies of the trials and look to see if they batch test their products to check the contents on the label are really in the product.”

3. Dosage and formulas

Some supplements say to take up to 6 a day while the same supplement from a different brand might recommend just two; why is this?

“More isn’t always better and depending on the supplement, it can make more sense to choose a supplement with a lower dose that can be taken several times a day so there is a better chance of it being absorbed,” suggests Sally.

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“The ease of application is also another factor to take into consideration.  Swallowing capsules is not ideal for everyone especially those with digestive issues or insufficiencies for example, so buying supplements in oral sprays, liquids and other topical methods can be an easier option.”

4. Genetically-modified organisms (GMOs)

“Always avoid anything that has been genetically modified, including your supplements.  Not only are GMO products bad for your health, they are not good for the environment and the community.  They can require heavy use of toxic pesticides and herbicides including glyphosate which has been linked to many health conditions including cancer and digestive complaints,” says Sally.

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5. Additives, colourings and artificial flavourings

Look for clean and pure products with no added sugars, colourings, additives or artificial flavourings.

Keep an eye out for allergens too such as gluten, dairy and soy as these can often be used in supplements.

6. Not tested on animals

Sally says: “Many people are unaware that animal testing can play a major role in the testing of supplements.  Look for products that are tested on humans, not animals.”

7. Cost

Expensive doesn’t always mean better – but neither does cheaper.

“Supplements need to be affordable but cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean better.  Some cheaper brands do not use well researched ingredients which can mean their products are not as effective.  Always do your research and take all of the above into consideration.”

Do you take supplements? Tell us in the Comments box below.