Supplements can be expensive, is it ok to buy another brand?
So, you’ve just been to see your practitioner and they’ve prescribed you a few supplements as part of your treatment plan. You’re keen to get healthy but the supplements are expensive, so is it ok to buy a cheaper brand from your local supermarket or health store?
The answer is both yes and no.
You have been prescribed a specific product for a reason. There is rationale behind why most practitioners stick to the same few manufacturers. – we have researched their products and are comfortable with the quality they provide. There are so many variables when it comes to supplements, that unfortunately not all are created equal. Some of the key things practitioners look at are:
Ingredients – many nutrients come in a wide variety of forms and we want to ensure that you’re getting the right one for you. Some forms are more bioavailable than others and can perform different actions. Not only are the forms important, but oftentimes your practitioner will look for a supplement that has a combination of nutrients in it. This is because certain combinations increase efficacy, but also because we’re trying to help your hip pocket by reducing the number of products you need to buy. Besides, no-one wants to rattle with pills when they walk!
Excipients – these are otherwise known as fillers or bulking agents. Many brands add these to make their products look bigger/provide weight for psychological reasons, because we are conditioned to think that bigger is better. Excipients are also used so they can provide you with a product that looks similar to other brands but allows the manufacturer to skimp on active ingredients. Some of the most common excipients include lactose, gluten, silica, talc, xylitol, sorbitol, preservatives, colours, and binders. Your practitioner will usually look for products that have little to no unnecessary excipients for reasons such as reducing toxic load, avoiding allergens etc.
Dosing – sadly, many over the counter (OTC) brands have very low levels of the active ingredients in them, rendering them poor value for money or useless. Practitioner only products (POP) are created for therapeutic dosing, and will have been carefully selected for your specific health needs. Dosing can vary dramatically between brands, and it’s important that your supplements adhere to guidelines as outlined by NRV. Too little of a nutrient can create deficiency, with too much causing toxicity, with each of these potentially causing some pretty nasty side effects.
So, taking these things into consideration, when is it ok to substitute brands?
For many people, the main reason for considering other brands comes down to price. That’s a perfectly valid reason, but shouldn’t negate an open and honest conversation with your practitioner about this. Your practitioner isn’t out to rip you off or cause financial hardship and should be willing to work with you to find a treatment plan that fits within your budget and lifestyle. There are some excellent OTC brands out there that I am more than happy for my patients to buy if it will save them money, but sometimes it’s important that they take the brand I have prescribed them. I am always more than happy to have a conversation with my patients outlining my reasons why I want them to take a certain brand or why others will or will not be appropriate for them to take. Find yourself a practitioner that you can talk to about these things. A good practitioner will welcome your questions and the opportunity to educate you so you can make informed decisions about your health.