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Five Top Tips for Dietary Supplements, According to Experts

Dietary supplements are products designed to support one’s diet with vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients that you might otherwise miss out on. As a trusted supplement retailer in Canada, we love a good dietary supplement. However, you should be aware that there are limitations and precautions, and they’re certainly not a one-size-fits-all solution to health products.

different supplements in wooden spoons on white background

While we believe food can be a great medicine (as well as potentially do harm), we feel that many dietary supplements help harness the power of food and nutrients. We also believe that, unfortunately, the supplement industry is a tricky place, and that like most things, dietary supplements can be misunderstood and misused. In general, supplements are great for:

  • bridging nutritional gaps
  • supporting immune function
  • providing additional nutrients for pregnant people, active individuals, older adults, and those with dietary restrictions

Top 5 Tips for Dietary Supplements

To help our customers better understand how to use dietary supplements, we’ve come up with five top tips for using them. 

  1. Talk to Your Primary Care Physician Before You Start Any Dietary Supplement.

You should always consult with your physician before starting any supplemental regimen. Assuming you trust your doctor and respect their education and opinion, they can help you better understand appropriate applications for dietary supplements and manage expectations.

In addition to better understanding, it’s essential that you mention the supplements you’re taking—including something as simple as protein powder—so your doctor is aware and can help monitor potential side effects and mitigate potential interaction with prescription drugs.

  1. Research What Each Dietary Supplement Does, if it’s Effective, and Appropriate Dosages.

In addition to talking to a medical professional who is familiar with your medical history and health, you should also do a little bit of digging on your own. For example, it’s never appropriate to start taking a dietary supplement just because you saw someone at the gym taking it; and seeing a social media influencer pushing a particular supplement and falling victim to their *influence* isn’t a good idea either. 

Person reading label and looking up information on computer

Before beginning a new supplement, you should understand what it is used for—and whether it works. We’re talking backed-by-science, too, not just an influencer’s word that this supplement helped them personally reach any number of fitness goals.

To do this, simply go to google.com and type the specific dietary supplement followed by “effectiveness scholarly articles.” So, for example, if you’re interested in using a protein supplement (and you probably should be), type “protein supplement effectiveness scholarly article” into Google.

Next, scroll through the results and read what research has discovered. In your perusing, you should also take note of the dosages used in studies and the safety and risks.

  1. While Researching Dietary Supplements, Check Your Sources.

While you’re conducting your research, be sure to check your sources. We’re suggesting using scholarly articles to determine whether the supplement is effective or not. In addition, websites with the primary goal of selling dietary supplements can be practical tools to discover tips and tricks. Still, they shouldn’t be relied on as your primary source of education regarding products they’re trying to sell you.

supplement superstore logo

To address the elephant in the room, yes, Supplement Superstore is a blog that ultimately would love if you bought your dietary supplements from us. We write our blogs using current research and highlight products we truly believe in and trust enough to use ourselves—but the same can’t be said for every single supplement retailer you will come across. 

The point is to be aware and understand when articles you’re reading are unbiased or potentially twisting studies for their own benefit.

  1. Don’t Use Dietary Supplements to Replace Whole Foods.

We’re typically the first to say that you should never be using supplements as your primary source of nutrition. Instead, supplements are meant to supplement your diet. By definition, supplement means “something that completes or enhances something else.” In this case, dietary supplements are meant to complete and enhance your typical diet.

spread of fresh vegetables

Taking a greens supplement does not and should not give you a license to avoid eating vegetables on most days. Likewise, using a protein supplement does not replace sources of protein from your whole foods. As such, no dietary supplement should stop you from eating anything you normally would or make you feel that you can eat fast food for every meal because you take a multivitamin.

  1. Read Dietary Supplements’ Labels and Take Them with a Grain of Salt.

In addition to talking with your doctor, conducting some basic research, checking your sources, and continuing to do your best to eat a balanced diet often, you should also learn to read the labels.

While the labels themselves can be somewhat informative, you do have to understand that the supplement industry is not regulated in the same way that food or even pharmaceuticals are. As a result, companies can put completely unfounded claims on their labels without repercussions at worst. While some companies employ shady tactics like this, many are trustworthy. Even so, many decent supplement companies still have a tendency of twisting studies to support their product.

person using finger to skim nutrition label

The bottom line is that you should take the label claims with a grain of salt and rely more on that research we suggested earlier to help you form your opinions. In addition to the branded label, you should also familiarize yourself with reading the nutrition facts and ingredients list. Learn which sneaky ingredients to look for and avoid. Some (but not all) of these ingredients to watch for are: 

  • milk solids
  • carrageenan
  • artificial sweeteners, flavours, and colours
  • hydrogenated oils

Obviously, as a supplement retailer, we love dietary supplements. We feel that most people can benefit from including a personalized supplement stack to help bridge nutritional gaps and reach fitness goals. However, we understand that supplements have their place, which certainly doesn’t take over for whole foods. They also certainly can be used and abused, and we’re the first to admit that supplement companies can be shady. For that reason, we’re advocates for consumer education and shopping exclusively with quality brands who have earned the trust of customers and health experts everywhere.

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