Dr. Pincott’s guide to what to look for when buying your supplements
- How do I know which brands have the highest quality and purity?
This is a good question for the practitioner who keeps their own dispensary. They research the suppliers, receive continuing education and receive feedback from patients. I use many different companies and choose the best from each. I take into consideration the quality and potency of the ingredients and prefer to use vegetarian capsules whenever I can. I consider the cost to the patient for the best therapeutic response. For example, in the last six months I have switched the type of Vitamin D drops I have been supplying due to patient complaints. The current vitamin D drop I recommend is made by Metagenics and it took them over 18 months to sort out the quality control issues so that the product stays fresh until the expiry date, which is 18 months. The taste and texture should not change over time.
Another example is CoEnzyme Q10. Thorne Research, one of the highest quality controlled professional supplement companies in the world, will put a product on back order due to a breach in their source material quality control whereas many other companies will just use an inferior product. This has happened recently with Q Best CoQ10, their crystal free form that absorbs three times better than ubiquinol. CoQ10 is becoming harder to find and I will switch companies temporarily if need be until I get my preferred product back in my dispensary.
I prefer to work with companies who have their own in-house analysis of their raw materials, that is performed on every batch, rather than relying on a third party which may not test every batch. The test for contaminants, pesticide residues and heavy metals as well as the potency of the active ingredients.
GMP’s, good manufacturing practices is more strict in Canada and becoming more so in the U.S. Often times remedies coming from Germany or Australia are manufactured far above the Canadian GMP’s. Mediherb Australia is such an example.
Does the remedy have the amount of the active ingredient as advertised on the label? Mediherb, for example, performs spectrographs on their raw materials to show that the active ingredient is present and in therapeutic amounts. Not many companies do this especially, with every new batch.
- What should I look for on the label?
Unfortunately many companies do not reveal everything that is in the product and it is not stated on the label. I use only products with full disclosure on their labels. Many professional companies that are used by naturopathic physicians do not use binders and fillers such as lactose and flowing agents, making the process of filling capsules more expensive. Capsules are used whenever possible for easier swallowing and I choose vegetarian capsules whenever possible.
If the patient is concerned about the product being entirely vegetarian, the naturopathic physician will research that and makes sure these types of questions are answered.
- How long should they be taken?
It depends what the remedy is and the health condition of the patient. Most patients will benefit from a B complex, vitamin D, extra minerals, fish oil and a probiotic that can be taken life long. Some are just taken as long as the health condition warrants. Some are taken as a preventive.
- What resources are available to learn more about nutrients and herbs?
Naturopathic physicians have access to extensive data bases and medical journals requiring a yearly subscription that provide research on nutrients and botanical medicine.
Naturopathic physicians also have the support of their suppliers with continuing education courses. By attending two seminars per year as required by the College of Naturopathic Physicians of BC (CNPBC) to maintain our license, we obtain many hours of nutritional and botanical medicine training every year whereas your average GP receives none.
Nutritional Medicine- A Textbook by Dr. Alan Gaby M.D. is a recent publication that I use daily in my practice.
There is a cost to high quality remedies because of all the quality control and the cost of sourcing these remedies.
Organic herbs are used as much as is possible. I will always endeavour to look at pricing as much as possible so that patients will be compliant in following a treatment program for their optimal success.
Dr. Ingrid Pincott, naturopathic physician, has been practicing since 1985 and can be reached at 250-286-3655 or www.DrPincott.com