How to Choose the Best SupplementsDecember 27th, 2021
Supplements might be our partners in health, but with so many options it can be complicated to figure out which ones your body might truly benefit from and where to find them. That’s where Thrive Market comes in. Whether you’re looking for letter vitamins or adaptogenic herbs, we have strict standards to make sure you have access to great picks for you and your family.
What Are Supplements and Why We Might Need Them
In an ideal world, we’d get all the goodness we need from our daily diet, but let’s be honest, life happens. Some days we skip a nutritious lunch, drink that extra glass of wine, or indulge in dairy, gluten, or another ingredient that might disrupt our system. Used appropriately, supplements can help fill in nutritional gaps and enhance our wellbeing in the process.
Understanding the Different Types of Supplements
Here’s a closer look at the different types of supplements available.
- Vitamins: Vitamins are micronutrients needed for normal cell function, growth, and development. They’re defined as either fat soluble or water soluble.
- Fat-soluble vitamins: These vitamins (like vitamins A, D, and E) dissolve in fat and tend to accumulate in the body.
- Water-soluble vitamins: If a vitamin is water-soluble (like B vitamins, folate, and vitamin C) it must dissolve in water before the body can absorb it and can’t be stored long-term. Any unused water-soluble vitamins are lost through urine.
- Minerals: Minerals are also micronutrients that help the body carry out a range of functions. These inorganic elements are present in soil and water and include calcium and potassium, plus trace minerals like copper, iodine, and zinc.
- Proprietary blends: Some brands develop proprietary blends to help protect the exact ratios of their product. Typically you’ll see a list of ingredients disclosed (which can be helpful) but without the ratios, you might not know how much of each nutrient you’re getting, which can make it difficult to determine if a product is right for you.
- Adaptogens: Adaptogens are a class of plants (mostly herbs) that, according to several animal studies, may help the body adapt to stress. They’re believed to have a normalizing effect on the body so it can adapt to whatever you’re struggling with.
How to Choose the Best Supplements
When you’re looking to feel better, it’s tempting to bulk order all sorts of supplements to try. But before you jump in and start a new routine, here are some important things to do first.
- Talk to your doctor. Before starting a new supplement routine, it’s a great idea to chat with your doctor and make a plan together. They’ll be able to alert you to any potential interactions with current medications and make recommendations based on your needs and lifestyle. If you don’t have current bloodwork, ask to run labs to see where you might have deficiencies.
- Do your research. Supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA, making it even more critical to vett brands, ingredients, and sourcing. (More on how we do this at Thrive Market below!) Although they don’t oversee the process, the FDA does require manufacturers to “produce dietary supplements in a quality manner and ensure that they do not contain contaminants or impurities, and are accurately labeled according to current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) and labeling regulations.” Even still, get ready to do some homework.
- Favor the science. In her book It’s Probably Nothing: The Stress-Less Guide to Dealing With Health Anxiety, Wellness Fads, and Overhyped Headlines, health reporter Casey Gueren reminds us that stories are what stick with us, not facts. That means if your mom or best friend says something worked for them, you’re more likely to trust it for yourself. But Gueren urges you to “make your own decisions based on definitive data, rather than word of mouth—particularly when those decisions involve you spending money or putting something in your body.” That means you might need to read up on some studies, or double check the sources in online articles to make the most informed decision.
- Consider your lifestyle. While the amount of supplements available nowadays is huge (and frankly overwhelming at times) that also means there are plenty of options to find the right fit for your needs. Are you out and about all day or do you spend most of your time at home? Are you a pill-swallowing expert, or does the whole process make you gag? Knowing whether you might prefer chewables, powders, or capsules can help you narrow down your choices.
Thrive Market’s Supplement Standards
To develop our wellmade by Thrive Market line, we set out to create supplements our members could trust. Whether it’s our own product or another brand we carry, we always require traceable sourcing, ethical and sustainable ingredients, and rigorous testing. “Our promise is that all of our products are tested for potency and purity. What you see is what you get,” shares Sara Rodich, Thrive Market’s Vitamin and Supplement Product Innovator. We also make sure that any claims on the product are certified, or we have verified supplier documentation to make sure that what they’re stating is accurate.
Thrive Market also prioritizes sustainable packaging materials to minimize impact, choosing recyclable content (PCR) and compostable and biodegradable options whenever possible. And no matter what you choose, there will never be hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, or petroleum or petroleum by-products in the formula.
Read on for our breakdown of some of the most popular supplements, how they might benefit you, and which brands to try first.
- What is Vitamin B12: B12 is one of eight B vitamins: B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folate or folic acid), and B12 (cobalamin). As a group, these vitamins help your body process food—particularly carbs—and convert it into either energy or glucose, and support red blood cell formation.
- Benefits of Vitamin B12: B12 works closely with B9 to help form red blood cells and utilize iron effectively, which may support wound healing and helps keep your nerve cells healthy.
- Good to know: All B vitamins are water-soluble, so the body doesn’t store them. Any excess will be eliminated via sweat or urine over the course of the day. It’s also common for vegetarians and vegans (or anyone who doesn’t eat a lot of meat or dairy) to be deficient, so check your levels if you’re unsure.
- Try it: Vitamin Code Raw B12
- What is Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an antioxidant abundant in an assortment of fruits and veggies like berries, broccoli, tropical fruits, squash, peppers, and leafy greens.
- Benefits of Vitamin C: This vitamin aids in creating collagen, a protein the body uses to make skin, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. As an antioxidant, vitamin C may also help protect your skin from damage caused by UV rays.
- Good to know: Like B vitamins, vitamin C is water soluble, so it’s something you need to replenish daily through diet or supplementation.
- Try it: wellmade Liposomal Vitamin C, Citrus Vanilla
- What is Vitamin D: Often referred to as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is technically a hormone that helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, and receptors are found in nearly every cell.
- Benefits of Vitamin D: It’s believed to boost your mood, help reduce the symptoms of clinical depression, and may also increase muscle strength.
- Good to know: The easiest way for our bodies to produce vitamin D is through regular sun exposure (don’t forget the SPF!). With the exception of fatty fish, beef liver, some cheeses, and egg yolks, few foods are natural sources. Be sure to work with your doctor to figure out the best dosage for your needs.
- Try it: Garden of Life Raw Vitamin D3
- What is collagen: Collagen is a long-chain amino acid and the primary structural protein found in skin, hair, nails, bones, and connective tissue. Our body actually contains 16 different types of collagen (the most popular being type-I, stored in muscles, bones, the digestive tract, and tendons).
- Benefits of collagen: Collagen is believed to support joint health and skin elasticity, strengthen hair and nails, and help coat the digestive tract. Studies also show that collagen’s most abundant amino acid—glycine—may positively impact the neurotransmitters that improve sleep quality.
- Good to know: A not-so-fun fact: collagen naturally declines as we age, so some may benefit from supplementing—check in with your doctor if you’re unsure.
- Try it: wellmade MCT Collagen Powder
- What is fiber: Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate from plants like fruits, veggies, legumes, and whole grains that the body can’t digest.
- Benefits of fiber: Fiber keeps food moving through the intestinal tract and takes waste and toxins along with it, which results in regular bowel movements.
- Good to know: According to the Mayo Clinic, men need roughly 38g of fiber, and women need 25g a day, but many of us don’t get enough. Dietary fiber is abundant in foods like bananas, beans, broccoli, carrots, whole grains, and apples, but you may need to supplement to reach optimal levels. Tip: add it to a smoothie, or sprinkle some over a soup or salad.
- Try it: Garden of Life Unflavored Organic Fiber
- What is fish oil: Fish oil is made up of two types of omega-3 fatty acids: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Both types are only found in animal sources.
- Benefits of fish oil: Fish oil is believed to help reduce triglyceride levels and may lower blood pressure in people with hypertension. And in those diagnosed with depression, the EPAs in fish oil have effects comparable to major pharmaceutical drugs like fluoxetine.
- Good to know: Our bodies need the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, but can’t make it from scratch. There are three ways to get both beneficial types, DHA and EPA: eating whole fish, supplementing with fish oil, or taking cod liver oil.
- Try it: wellmade Fish Oil, Lemon Squeeze
- What is magnesium: Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in our bodies and supports hundreds of daily functions. It’s found in every cell and helps convert food into energy. Magnesium is also key to creating protein, repairing DNA and RNA, and regulating messages from the brain to muscles.
- Benefits of magnesium: Magnesium may help insulin—the hormone that regulates blood sugar—function optimally, reduce the severity of migraines, and support mood. In a meta-analysis of more than 8,000 people, those with the lowest magnesium intake were 22 percent more likely to be clinically depressed. Magnesium may also help regulate the neurotransmitters that are directly related to sleep.
- Good to know: There are several kinds of magnesium out there—including citrate, glycinate, and chloride—and each have their own benefits and uses. For best results, work with a healthcare provider to choose the best version for your needs.
- Try it: wellmade Relaxation Magnesium, Raspberry Lemon
- What is turmeric: Turmeric has been a wellness darling for years, but this Indian spice has roots in Ayurvedic medicine and is derived from a rhizomatous plant called zingiberaceae, which is related to ginger.
- Benefits of turmeric: This yellow powder isn’t just bold in color—it contains nearly 30 anti-inflammatory compounds known as curcuminoids, and delivers magnesium, iron, and vitamin B6. As an anti-inflammatory, curcumin is believed to be as strong as some over-the-counter drugs.
- Good to know: It’s easy to incorporate turmeric into your meal plan. From cozy lattes and filling smoothies to curries and soups, this spice is worth a spot in your pantry.
- Try it: Thrive Market Organic Turmeric Powder
- What is zinc: Zinc is a micronutrient whose primary role is to aid in cell growth and development, but it also helps with immune defense, neurological function, and hormone regulation.
- Benefits of zinc: When it comes to immunity, zinc might become your new favorite supplement. In a study of 50 middle-aged people who supplemented with zinc or a placebo for 12 months, those who didn’t take zinc regularly were 59 percent more likely to catch a cold or flu.
- Good to know: Most people get enough zinc in their regular diet—it’s found in foods like cashews, quinoa, and lentils, as well as beef, dairy, and shellfish—so consult with a trusted medical professional to see if you need added support.
- Try it: Trace Minerals Zinc Gummies
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before changing your diet or healthcare regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.