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Supplements and At-Home Testing Kits: Clever Marketing or a Good Health Purchase?

How often these days do you get a promotional email or see a social media “influencer” promoting a health and wellness product that sounds like it’s exactly what you can use? How many of us have a drawer full of supplements we saw an ad or influencer post about that is now just collecting dust on a shelf or in a drawer somewhere?

Maybe you become entranced by the beautiful and inviting product labeling or packaging.

Maybe you see a sale on foods for enhancing gut health or balancing blood sugar, with extra tips and special (restrictive) diet suggestions to try that may also help.

Perhaps your favorite athlete is sharing a discount code for their sleep or recovery supplement, or for a lab/bloodwork test designed just for athletes.

What Do All These Promotional Products Have in Common?

Clever and targeted marketing.

Their intention is to get you to feel like you both need the product or test result, and that your health, and thus the rest of your life, will benefit.

But will it? Are these supplements reputable? What about that reasonably priced, at-home food sensitivity test, or alternatively, expensive blood panel or DNA test that looks for health and nutrition-related genetic markers?

The answer to whether any of these products will benefit you is, as usual when it comes from your nutrition professional: it depends.

The dietary supplement industry is a bit of a “wild west.” In the US, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), assumes all dietary supplements are safe and there isn’t much oversight, so you cannot be sure that what you’re purchasing is actually what’s in the bottle. Likewise, any health claims on the label may or may not have scientific substantiation behind them.

Over-the-counter at-home testing companies may not disclose their methods or how they come to the conclusions they report. It’s also difficult for the average consumer that doesn’t have a broader understanding of testing to understand whether or not the test they took was the optimal testing method for what they’re trying to assess. We’ve seen advertisements for urine vitamin testing knowing those testing methods aren’t legit for that assessment. Consumers, however, don’t know that.

When your nutritionist recommends herbs, supplements, and functional foods, they do so making an informed choice that the product is right for you at this moment in time and that the product is from a reputable company, most often one that has undergone third-party auditing so you know what’s on the label is in the product.
Also, because you were personally recommended the product by a professional, you’re much more likely to benefit rather than throw your money away.

Further, your nutrition professional often chooses professional line products, meaning if it’s a nutrient supplement, it will contain a form of the nutrient that’s most bio-available for you rather than the least expensive forms of the nutrient that are often contained in mass-marketed and grocery or drugstore supplements. For example, there are 9 different types of magnesium, each optimal for differing health goals and some that aren’t as bioavailable, meaning, if it’s not as bioavailable your body can’t use much of what you’re taking. It’s our job to know what’s optimal for your health goals (also taking your budget into account), and if you didn’t study biochemistry, it’s unrealistic to expect that you’d be aware of this.

Along the same lines, if the product contains an herb, it will be from a company that sources quality herbs and processes them so they are the most medicinal and of benefit to your health. Likewise, that enticing sale on gut health supplements sounds like a wellness shopper’s paradise and a recipe for a happy belly, but many of those so-called “good gut” health foods may give you the opposite of a beneficial result.

This is why nutritional consultations with a professional are so critical.

Our Hope Wellness Recommendation

As integrative nutritionists with a lot of training in food, nutrients, herbs, and testing methods, we aren’t completely immune to these clever marketing schemes either. They can sometimes look so enticing and the product sounds so helpful. We have to do a double-take and look behind the fancy label or trendy ingredient.

At the end of the day, the fastest, and likely, least expensive—not to mention least stressful emotionally, mentally, and physically—way to improve your health is to skip the influencer promotional deals and artfully designed trendy wellness packaging and work with a professional who’s going to give you individual guidance on diet and lifestyle.

Certified Nutrition Specialists have the advanced education and training needed to spot when something is likely to be beneficial for you or make your particular situation worse (or make no difference at all); something you wouldn’t likely have the correct context of when being lured in by the promises of shiny, exciting marketing tactics.

Know that we are here anytime you need us and, to start, all you have to do is set up a complimentary discovery call with one of our team members. Contact us today to set an appointment for you.

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Check out our other recent article: My Top 3 Powerhouse Foods for Healthy, Bright Skin

Have a question or blog topic you’d like us to cover? Contact us and let us know!

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Rebecca Fallihee hails from Eugene, Oregon. She is a Certified Nutrition Specialist and also is a Licensed Dietician Nutritionist in the state of Illinois. Rebecca graduated from Maryland University of Integrative Health with a MS degree in Nutrition. She has over a decade of teaching public health nutrition, and specializes in many areas of health and nutrition including digestive optimization, metabolic health, sports nutrition, nutritional genetics and autoimmune health among other conditions.

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