(How) Do you know what’s REALLY in your supplement? - Alliance Integrative Medicine

(How) Do you know what’s REALLY in your supplement?

What’s Really in Your Supplements? 

When it comes to understanding what’s in your supplements, it’s not always as simple as reading the ingredients listed on the bottle. In the U.S., supplements are not regulated by the FDA and new supplements do not need to be approved by the FDA before they hit the market unless they contain a new ingredient that has not been sold before.  

The manufacturer is responsible for ensuring the safety of their products, but not all manufacturers abide by the same standards. Many products don’t have the amount of ingredients they claim, and many products contain ingredients that are not listed on their labels – countless supplements are tainted with pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, and pesticides. 

For example, a study in 2016 of 16 probiotic supplements on the market showed that only ONE of the supplement’s ingredients perfectly matched its label. The others had additional bacterial strains not listed, and/or lower amounts of the listed strains than claimed. Different lots of the same probiotic often contained varying quantities of bacterial strains. And sometimes, even in the same bottle, the number of strains changed from one pill to the next. 

There are additional concerns to think about when it comes to vitamin and herbal supplements. Many one-a-day vitamin manufacturers use cheaper forms of vitamins, which may not be good for you. They also bind the vitamins together using magnesium stearate (a soap!) — making it difficult for the pill to dissolve. While naysayers have always talked about vitamins making expensive urine, undissolved tablets are probably making expensive stool! And thinking long-term, herbal products may be grown using unsustainable farming practices, something we all need to be concerned about. 

So how do you pick a quality product?

 The brands we carry in our store have a reputation for quality and safety. Companies such as Ortho Molecular Products, Metagenics, Pure Encapsulations, Microbiome Labs, Standard Process, and Designs for Health research their products to prove safety and efficacy. With so many supplements on the market, we know it can feel difficult to choose good-quality products. This is why we hand-pick the supplements on our store shelves, and part of the reason we are so excited to announce the launch of our new private label supplement line- AIM for Wellbeing! 

Alliance Integrative Medicine’s partnership with The Christ Hospital has allowed us to develop AIM for Wellbeing. AIM for Wellbeing is proud to launch a new private label supplement line in collaboration with Ortho Molecular Products & Metagenics. You can trust the purity, strength, identity, and composition of each and every one of our high-quality supplements offered through AIM for Wellbeing. We are working with the top manufacturers in the industry to guarantee responsibly sourced, highly absorbable, pharmaceutical grade supplements that are backed by science.  

Over the next few months, you will see many products in our store replaced by our new privately labeled AIM For Wellbeing products. And, we have launched an online store where you can purchase your favorite products and have them shipped directly to you.

More tips to help you pick quality supplements:


The supplements offered in our store and through our private label are of the highest quality and far surpass the minimum safety standards. There are some general rules of thumb you should follow when shopping for supplements; at a minimum, here is what we recommend… 

  • Pay close attention to any details on the label, which may include disclaimers. One good example is probiotics. Many claim to have a certain number of colony-forming units (CFU) with the disclaimer that the amount listed is the amount “at time of manufacture.” The bottle often makes it to the shelf with significantly fewer colonies left. It’s better to pick one that guarantees a certain number of CFU at the time of expiration. 
  • Beware of supplements that are made outside the United States. Many of these products are herbs and can be contaminated if the soil where they are grown is full of pesticides and heavy metals. Many Chinese and Indian herbs are contaminated with metals including lead, arsenic, and mercury. Choosing organic products made in the United States is usually safer. 
  • Look for supplements that are free of preservatives, artificial colorings, and sugars. If you have diet restrictions, you should also make sure that your supplements conform to these constraints (e.g., gluten and dairy) as well. 
    • Always discuss your supplements with your doctor to make sure that the doses and ingredients are right for you. Supplements can be an incredibly powerful part of your Transformational Wellness Plan, and it is important to ensure that you are taking the right ones for you. 

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About Alliance Integrative Medicine

Known for successful treatment of mystery illnesses, the team at Alliance Integrative Medicine combine an integrative, functional medicine approach with the appropriate lab testing.

Our unique approach to diagnosing and treating diseases and disorders recognizes that lasting health depends on resolution of the root causes of your disease. Click here to learn more »

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