How Healthy Are My Supplements?

How Healthy Are My Supplements?

Dr. Kristin Wootton ND explains the top 4 items to look for when choosing supplements to ensure they are good quality.

With the wide variety of supplements available in stores, it’s not surprise that all of them aren’t created equal. It can be overwhelming to decide which one may be best for you. Here are a few tips and things to look out for when choosing your supplements to ensure you’re getting high quality and effective products.

  1. Quality and form of ingredients: It is important to look at the form each vitamin and mineral is in to ensure it has good absorbability and will be effective (ex: oxide vs. citrate vs. glycinate). For herbal products, take a look at which part of the plant is used in the studies supporting it’s use and make sure the product you’re using is made of the same part. The form of ingredients can also dictate the therapeutic dose.
  2. NPN number: All supplements sold in Canada need to display an NPN (Natural Product Number). This number indicates that the particular product is safe and effective for the condition it claims to help after being reviewed by Health Canada. If you have any supplements without an NPN number, I would recommend pitching them. Check out the Licensed Natural Health Product Database here:
  3. Transparency: do you know everything that is in your supplements? The label should clearly state both the active and inactive ingredients so you know what is in each capsule or tablet. Also keep an eye out for ‘proprietary blends’ as it keeps you from knowing exactly what you’re ingesting. I love when companies clearly label potential allergens clearly so that it’s easy to determine if there will be an interaction from any non-medicinal ingredients.
  4. Third Party Testing: It’s one thing for a company to test their product themselves and declare the quality and purity, but having a third company test it can eliminate any bias. Are both the raw ingredients and final products tested separately? Knowing this can tell you the quality of the product as well as ensure there is no contamination. When I’m looking at using products from a new company, I contact them to obtain a copy of their testing reports to ensure the products have passed in various categories including microbiology, heavy metals, pesticides, etc.

While these guidelines can help, there may be other things to consider before running out and picking something up. If you want to know what forms of nutrients is best for your health goals, the best time to take them, as well as any interactions between supplements and medications you may be on, a naturopathic doctor can help guide you to the supplements that are best for you.

Dr. Kristin Wootton, ND is an award-winning Naturopathic Doctor in Burlington and Stoney Creek. Visit to learn more or book a free 15-minute meet and greet.