What to Look for When Buying Supplements

Not all vitamins are created equal. Stay safe and get maximum health benefits with these tips.

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Next time you’re supplement shopping take note: Not all supplements are created equal. That’s because some supplements may not contain quality ingredients and some may even contain ineffective ingredients. In some instances when supplements are tested by independent labs, they contain less than or none of the active ingredients listed on the label.

“Fact is, no matter the supplement you’re seeking, shopping the vitamin aisle can be quite confusing because, by law dietary supplements have their own classifications and are not required to follow the same manufacturing standards as drugs,” says Joe Feuerstein, MD, an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University and Director of Integrative Medicine at Stamford Hospital.

“In fact, supplements may contain harmful ingredients because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) leaves it up to supplement manufacturers and distributors to do their own testing on the safety of their products,” says Danielle Gill, RD, a registered dietitian in West Hempstead, New York.

But, there are supplements you can trust.

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Label Reading 101

When it comes to selecting a premium joint health supplement, Cosamin® Joint Health* supplements contain the highest quality formulas and ingredients, and are subject to over 80 quality checks. Nutramax Laboratories Consumer Care, Inc. revolutionized the joint health space over 20 years ago with the introduction of Cosamin®, the first ever glucosamine/chondroitin supplement. Nutramax Laboratories Consumer Care, Inc., the maker of Cosamin®, is committed to quality and stands out in a crowd of imitators and generic brands. As few brands have the same level of research and history of results, it’s important to be a sleuth when reading supplement labels, especially ones that are missing key information about ingredients and formulations. Next time you’re shopping for a supplement, here are five key things to keep in mind when you study the label:

1. Read the claims.

When shopping for supplement tablets, soft-gels, liquids or capsules, it’s important to buy one that contains the same amount and quality of active ingredients used in published clinical studies. Look for label information that indicates scientific claims such as those for Cosamin®DS, which is ‘clinically proven to help promote joint comfort*,’ or Cosamin®ASU, which states, ‘laboratory studies show its combination of ingredients inhibit enzymes that break down cartilage.*’ Quality products should be supported by published studies, which is the case with a supplement such as Cosamin®DS.


2. Expiration dates matter.

“Make sure that there’s an expiration date on the label of the supplement you’re planning to purchase since that expiration date indicates how recently the product had been shelved,” Dr. Feuerstein says. If that expiration date has passed, don’t purchase the product.

3. Buy from companies that test each batch for safety and purity.

While Cosamin® products are “formulated with integrity and attention to detail,” not all supplements are held to the same standards. Some companies do what is called “skip batch testing,” where only pre-selected batches are tested, reducing overhead costs but making quality assurance more difficult to ensure. Before buying any supplement, be sure to research the methods the company uses to test its products so you can be confident in your purchase.

4. Contact information should be clear.

“When looking at labels, be sure the product’s packaging includes a lot number for the product along with a company name, address of where the company has its headquarters and a way to contact the manufacturer should you have questions,” Dr. Feuerstein says.


5. Check to ensure the product is tested by a third-party lab.

“Look for labels that bear the certification mark from such organizations as NSF International. This certification indicates that the company has submitted their products to be tested and certified by an independent organization for potency, contents and quality,” says Taylor Engelke, MS, RDN, CD, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Neenah, Wisconsin.

“The NSF product certification mark indicates that the product has been tested for harmful levels of specific contaminants like lead and arsenic. NSF product certification also means the product has been tested to be sure the ingredients listed on the package are the actual ingredients contained and there are no other additives unless listed,” adds Engelke.

If you are someone looking to promote your joint health then you want the confidence that the supplement you purchase meets the highest standards of quality. Learn more about the scientifically proven formula of Cosamin® and how it works to promote joint health.*

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