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MetroCreative Connection Learning to tell low-quality supplements from high-quality supplements can ensure you get what you pay for.

Let's get right to it. Yes, nutritional supplements are basically unregulated. While this may sound like a bad thing, it pushes many savvy customers to learn more about the quality of the supplements they take. Yes, there are low-quality supplements out there, but don't write off nutritional supplements like vitamins, minerals or herbs, because there are also some amazing high-quality brands on the market. It can take a little due diligence to distinguish the good from the bad, but you just need to learn what to look for and what to ask when shopping for supplements.

My biggest tip is to buy your supplements from a health food or specialty supplement store. Many high-quality brands have strict criteria that the retailer has to meet that prioritizes independent health food stores. This helps focus on a type of hands-on customer service that you cannot normally expect from a larger big box store, but can expect from a smaller specialty store.

Have you ever been impressed with the knowledge of a health food store employee? This is usually due to the fact that most high-quality supplement brands are actively training health food store employees. Luckily, many employees in the natural health industry are eager to learn about the products they sell. So, always ask questions about the quality control and testing of the brand that you are interested in. The employee will usually be able to answer most of your questions and if they can't, they should have a direct contact to the brand that can help them find the info that you need.

That brings us to quality testing. Since there aren't strict regulations on nutritional supplements, testing is very important. Independent third-party testing on each batch to be more specific. Actually, testing is a large part of why high-quality supplements can cost more than products without strict quality control programs in place. This part is so important to me and is why at my store Tulsi, we require third-party testing of all the nutritional supplements that we carry. While many health food and supplement stores hold similar standards, unfortunately some do not. This is why it is very important to inquire about these issues.

Nutritional supplements get a bad name due to the lack of regulations. Unfortunately, there are probably more lower-quality supplements on the market than high-quality ones. But I assure you that great highly-tested vitamins, minerals, herbs and other nutritional supplements are available. They may take some more work to find, but it is well worth it to make sure that you are getting what you pay for.

Travis Lemon is a certified herbalist and co-owner of Tulsi at The Market in Huntington. He has worked in the natural health and wellness industry for over 16 years. He can be contacted at travislemonmh@gmail.com.

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