We can all agree that shopping for supplements can be a little confusing. There are just so many choices that it can be overwhelming. Some products make outrageous claims, some contain dozens of “superfood” ingredients, and others sacrifice substance for flavor. That’s why, when selecting a supplement, we suggest opting for simplicity.
Just like “clean eating,” in the case of supplements, less is typically more. Here’s why:
1. Sourcing – The fewer the number of ingredients in a formulation, the more attention gets paid to the sourcing of each ingredient. For example, when sourcing for our products it took us well over six months of actively speaking to farmers, suppliers, traveling, testing, etc. (read about Our Difference). Our products only contain four ingredients each, and they are all organic, gluten free, non-gmo and free from fillers or carriers.
If our products each contained 20 ingredients, do you think we could pay the same attention to detail? Unfortunately, the answer is no, not without a lot of resources and money.
When you see a long list of ingredients in a supplement, the chances are that the ingredients were purchased exclusively through brokers or middlemen. Unfortunately, when you aren’t buying directly from the source, details like whether or not the ingredient has carriers like maltodextrin (aka corn) or whether the ingredient is actually the ingredient get overlooked!
2. Quality Testing – One of the most expensive aspects of bringing a product to market lies in testing costs. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has guidelines for testing; however, it may surprise you that the bar is set pretty low. Let’s not forget that while the FDA oversees the supplement industry, it does not test and approve supplements before they hit the market. And, despite the minimal standards, cutting corners is still prevalent, which is one of the reasons why the supplement industry has earned a bad reputation.
Believe it or not, testing for pathogens like salmonella is not required by the FDA for supplements, nor is testing for ingredient identity or allergens. Does that seem scary to you? It does to us, which is one of the key reasons why we launched our own company.
Because our products only contain four ingredients each, we are able to test our products above and beyond FDA standards for quality, safety and nutritional value. We also test our ingredients numerous times within our own supply chain to ensure that every ingredient meets or exceeds our rigorous standards. Again, testing costs money; however, because we only have four ingredients in each product, we are able to conduct more testing than the average supplement company without skyrocketing our sales price.
3. Certifications – When you see a claim on a package like “organic,” but don’t see the USDA Organic symbol, then the risk is yours. You may be paying extra for something that isn’t actually organic. Because the FDA doesn’t test supplements to ensure they meet their label claims, there exist external organizations that provide certifications and of course, it costs money.
The more ingredients you have in your formulations, the more time and money it costs to certify. Because we only have four simple ingredients that we can trace back to the farms where they were grown, we are able to secure USDA Organic Certification from the Idaho Department of Agriculture, Gluten Free Certification from the Gluten Free Certifying Organization (GFCO), and vegan certification from Vegan Action. Again, clean, simple products yield better quality.
4. Function – Let’s use protein as an example, because many of us use it daily. Now, ask yourself, why are you using protein? I personally use protein powder because I like that I can use it in a smoothie as a meal replacement, I like that it makes me feel fuller longer, and I like that it digests easily because it’s vegan.*
I use a protein supplement because it gives me the benefits of protein and I can toss it in my smoothie. I do not use a protein supplement because it contains “natural flavors,” stevia, probiotics, digestive enzymes, or any other number of ingredients that have nothing to do with delivering the benefits of protein and everything to do with marketing.
Again, from the standpoint of functionality, simplicity prevails. Choose a supplement that is going to get the job done, and don’t fall for the bells and whistles. The fewer the ingredients, the better the quality and functionality.
Overall, we are thankful that the clean eating trend has finally surfaced in the supplement industry. We want to know what goes into our supplements, just like we want to know where our food comes from. The Natural Citizen is so proud of the attention to detail that we deliver in every one of our simple, honest whole food products, and we are honored to be a part of your daily health ritual.
Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!