6 Things You Should Know Before Taking Any Supplement

How do you know if your supplement is working, what makes a supplement good quality?

7 Minute ReadEducation by Lucy Goff, LYMA Founder

21.05.21 (Updated 09.01.24)

How do you know if your supplement is working, what makes a supplement good quality and is it the best supplement for you? Welcome to square one.

Supplementation is a smart approach to keeping our fast-moving, modern lifestyles on track but there’s zero point in packets of powders or piles of pills if you can't be sure they’re delivering a true health benefit. But contrary to popular belief, you shouldn't have to hit and hope yourself into better health, the best health supplements come with proof and evidence, if you know what to look for.

What to look for in a good health supplement

Let’s start with a dose of hard truth; the supplement industry is confusing and intentionally misleading. “The supplement industry lacks regulation and ultimately puts consumers at risk,” warns Professor Paul Clayton, Clinical Pharmacologist and LYMA Director of Science.

“A vast amount of the products in the industry are unproven and contents should match label claims, but these are not rigorously checked. Equally there are rancid ingredients that are long past their sell by dates and others not stable enough to survive manufacture and distribution.”

It sounds like it can’t possibly be true but it is. Turns out, it’s a Wild West of extracts and there is no governing body that regulates the quality and claims of the nutraceutical market, which makes it very difficult to choose the best overall supplement. “Ideally there should be a separate governing body for evidence based nutrition,” says LYMA founder, Lucy Goff. “But currently, the only legal requirement of a manufacturer is that they list the ingredients and the dosage. There’s nothing to tell you anything about how effective that supplement is going to be inside your body or if it's going to have any health benefit at all.”

In which case, we must all do our own research. Here are six fail-safe checks for what to look for in a health supplement.

1. Look for patented ingredients

“Patented ingredients are a mark of excellence. These are ingredients infused with high-tech delivery systems that have undergone pre-clinical and clinical studies to have reached the performance level required to be published in medical journals,” explains Lucy Goff. This is why Goff insisted that all ingredients in LYMA are patented - scientifically adapted from their organic states and dosed at the correct amount proven in published medical journals. “Don't look for the generic ingredient, look for the patented ingredient, which is the proven form of that ingredient. You need to know whether these ingredients have ever worked on a medicinal level, in order to provide a medicinal benefit.With that patented version, you can prove its toxicity, stability and bioavailability,” she explains.

2. Bioavailability

The issue of bioavailability is crucial to whether a supplement works or not because, even the highest quality of natural ingredients can have zero effect if the body is unable to digest them. Sometimes it’s a case of the body breaking it down too quickly, the dose being too low or our complex biological systems simply being unable to process them. Most nutrients are taken in by the small intestine and absorbed into the blood but if the body doesn’t recognise it or see it as useful, it will be broken down by digestive juices and swiftly passed out again.

“In their organic form, many ingredients are not able to be absorbed by the body. Instead, patented ingredients will have been designed to survive the digestive system and deliver proper benefits”, Lucy Goff explains.

A prime example of this being turmeric. “The turmeric industry is worth hundreds of billions of dollars, but the truth is that turmeric is a placebo and you’ll never get an active level into your plasma to have an anti-inflammatory effect because it’s not absorbed by the body.

But HydroCurc® formulated in LYMA is the world’s most bioavailable and patented version. It uses the game changing LipiSperse® technology, which allows the curcumins to be dispersed in water, making it the most bioavailable form of curcumin extract available today.” It costs an eye-watering £300 per kilo, price being a common hurdle to using patented ingredients. “But if you scrimp and stick to off-the-peg turmeric, you don’t get any of the benefits,” says Goff.

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3. Ingredients reviewed by independent experts

Hands down the best way of deciphering the quality of supplement ingredients is to look for peer reviews.

This means a third party, independent body of expert scientists have picked through every line of research, analysing and investigating if it stands up technically. If an ingredient is peer reviewed, you can be confident it’s worth investing in. Take affron® 28mg in LYMA; six separate studies to date have demonstrated that a daily dose of 28mg alleviates low mood states and anxiety by enhancing resilience and our ability to deal with adversity.

“Just as you wouldn't trust a medicine that hasn't been peer-reviewed, you shouldn't trust a supplement that hasn't been peer-reviewed either,” insists Professor Clayton.

“Any brand can pay for a private clinical study, doctor the results and state any outcome. However, peer-reviewed studies have been approved by an independent team of experts, published in medical journals and therefore can be fully trusted. A supplement which includes peer-reviewed ingredients offers the highest level of transparency and efficacy.”

To check peer-reviewed evidence yourself, go to the Pubmed website. Type the branded ingredient in the search bar and look to see if the exact brand of ingredient has been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

4. Deep dive the dosage

Due to the cost of patented ingredients, many supplements include them at a nominal amount. This is not good enough; the dosage level in a supplement must match the dosage level in the peer-reviewed study. If it's not dosed correctly, you can't be sure it will provide the same benefits. The list of percentages is not the whole story either, an ingredient that‘s a whopping 600% of your Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), isn’t going to have you leaping from building to building come lunchtime.

“Dosage can be deceiving and you only get the whole picture from looking at the numbers behind the numbers,” warns Goff.

“It’s easy to be wowed when a product label boasts 1000mg of their hero ingredient but take care because perhaps 12.5% of that is the active compound and the remaining 87.5% could be made up of the carrier ingredients that make it water soluble.

“The only dose that matters is that of the active compound.”

5. All-natural organic supplements don’t necessarily work

You have to look at each ingredient on an individual basis. There are those who swear that everything has to be all natural all of the time. The reality is you can be a little more granular. There are some nutrients, such as vitamin C, where it really doesn't matter whether what you're taking is vitamin C cherry extract or a synthetic form, because the molecule is so simple that it's identical.

“When it comes to plant or herb extracts, organic isn't always a benchmark for efficacy. Organic doesn't assure you that the extract won't be killed off by the acid in your stomach, or be bioavailable, or stable. In many instances, organic supplements have to be adapted in order to provide benefits once ingested,” explains Professor Paul Clayton.

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6. Listen to your body - you’ll feel the difference

If you can’t trust the label, trust your body. Do you feel better from taking a supplement? Have you noticed your mind quieting, your moods balance or your sleep improving?

“The thing about supplements is you should be able to feel them working. After all, that's why you're taking them,” says Lucy Goff.

Admittedly, there are certain nutrients working on a cellular level that you won't necessarily feel on a day-to-day basis such as probiotics. But if you’re taking a supplement containing a patented form of Ashwagandha, which gives a deeper level of sleep, you should notice an improvement in sleep quality as soon as a week or so. “Give any supplement three months to show results and then take stock of how you feel. That's what LYMA is fantastic for because even from very early on, you can feel it’s working and if you don't want to believe anyone else, believe yourself. There’s nothing more important than that, after all,” says Lucy.

The most powerful supplement for you

Feel free to be a supplement sceptic, as with no governing body to pull companies into line, it's a lawless land of marketing claims. If you’re dubious, there’s no rule against calling a brand and asking them what sort of trials their formulas have undergone and where the evidence is. After all, if a supplement is robustly proven and truly able to provide a real health benefit, they should want to shout about it.

LYMA is committed to using only peer-reviewed, patented ingredients sourced from the world's most advanced laboratories in the doses proven to work. "This is the highest category of supplementation available," advocates Professor Paul Clayton. Zero compromises, just a gold-standard formula that you can trust.

The LYMA Concierge is always on hand to answer any questions or start you on your LYMA journey today. Contact them right here. Those with underlying health and medical conditions should consult their doctor before starting any new supplementation routines.



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