Supplements – where are you buying yours from?

Are you buying supplements from overseas, do you know what’s in them?

Sure, the label may say that it contains xy and z as you have ordered, but how do you really know what is in them if they have not been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

The TGA is responsible for ensuring goods available for supply in Australia are safe and fit for their intended purpose. The TGA in Australia regulates many goods that Australians rely on daily including complementary medicines; vitamins, herbal and traditional medicines.

If you are sourcing your supplements from overseas they are not subjected to regulation by the TGA. Every now and again you see a sportsperson in trouble for having blood levels of something illegal in their system. I could never understand this, until I was having a conversation with a colleague of mine who has competed at an Olympic level. It appears that it is likely that these illegal substances can come from supplements imported from overseas, aha moment.

I know it is tempting to go for the cheaper option, but the reality is, you do get what you pay for. Australian manufacturers adhere to the regulations and supply a quality product, so whether you buy your supplements from your local health food store, or your naturopath you can feel safe taking them.

I have seen the hoops that are jumped through by the manufacturers that I purchase my supplements off, and the companies often have two arms of supply, a retail line and a practitioner line. You also need to be careful buying supplements from the health food store and chemist, as many will contain ingredients that may affect other medicines that you are taking. The product that you pick may not be the best one for your particular circumstances either. Your practitioner is the best person to buy supplements from as they have access to top of the line product and have the knowledge to prescribe for you as an individual.

Some of the supplements I stock are also available in a health food store/chemist, the reality is that I am only going to recommend a product if I know it will work, and have looked at the research. If my patients find it convenient to buy at the chemist or health food store, then that’s fine with me. As the sales rep for a particular company said to me; it’s so good to see a practitioner that cares more about their patients health than their bottom line, no I’m not going to tell you the brand. This is also because I rely on a certain amount of income from supplements to stay in business.

Most health practitioners do, and that’s O.K. This is the reason that I will always buy tick and flea treatments and other medicines for my dog from my vet, because I know that they rely on a certain amount of money from these types of products to survive in business. When its 10pm and my dog is in need of emergency vet care, I know who I can count on, and that’s why I support them, even though I know I can buy the exact same product cheaper on the internet. It’s about supporting the small businesses that you trust with your health and your pets health, so that they can survive and be profitable, and be there for you.

So, before you place that next overseas herb/ supplement or vitamin order, is there a local practitioner that you have already seen, and has helped you regain your health that you could and should be supporting?