5 Practical Tips to Help You Buy Better Supplements

Written by: Dr. Justine Luchini



Time to read 4 min

When it comes to picking out supplements, many of us tend to skim labels for ingredients we recognize. It's a common strategy, but here's the catch: some companies make products based on what ingredients are trendy, because they know people are more likely to buy something if they’ve heard of it from some health guru or podcast.


They often sneak these popular ingredients into something called a "proprietary blend." But what does that mean? Well, it's like hiding their ingredients in a secret recipe. The problem is, these blends often contain only a tiny bit of the higher quality or more expensive ingredients, and then mix in bigger amounts of cheaper, lower-quality ingredients, or even synthetic fillers.

In the supplement world, this is known as "pixie dusting," and it makes many products seem better than they really are.


Most brands will say they use these proprietary blends to protect their secret formulas – so that other companies can’t copy them. The problem is that their secret sauce comes at your expense because it’s impossible for the customer to actually know what they are getting.


Another form of ‘pixie dusting’ happens with brands that pack in tons of different ingredients, making it seem like their product can ‘do it all.’ But when they cram ‘everything’ into one serving, you're never getting enough of any single ingredient to see real results.


Since most consumers don’t actually know how much of a certain vitamin, mineral, herb, or other nutrient is the right amount to take, companies can get away with marketing these kinds of products. Multivitamins and greens powders are notorious for this – as are many ‘sleepy time’ blends. They will have way too much of some ingredients and way too little of others.


So what is a consumer to do?

Here are 5 Practical Tips to Help You Buy Better Supplements:

Picking a Supplement

1. Look for Transparency:

Trustworthy supplement companies are transparent about their formulations. They will provide clear information about ingredient amounts, including the daily value percentage, so you know exactly what you're getting. 

Be cautious when you see the term "proprietary blend" on a label. This can be a red flag that the company is not disclosing ingredients or their dosing of each, making it difficult to assess their potential effectiveness.

2. Research Ingredients:

Do a little homework on the ingredients. If you know magnesium is good for relaxation and want to take it for that – look up what a proper dose of magnesium is. You may be surprised to find out just how much of some natural ingredients it takes to get a certain outcome. 

Most ingredients will have a range of doses that have been studied for a particular outcome. If you’re a smaller person, always go for the lower end of the dosing range to start.

One great resource for dosing information (and for other research findings about many supplement ingredients) is www.examine.com.

3. Check for Third-Party Testing:

Testing supplements

Some brands voluntarily subject their supplements to third-party testing for quality and purity. Look for products that have been tested by organizations like Informed Sport, Informed Choice, NSF, or ConsumerLab.

4. Know That Price Isn't Always an Indicator:

High-priced supplements are not always better in quality. Conversely, low-priced supplements may not be the best deal. Focus on the factors mentioned above rather than price alone. High-priced supplements are not always better in quality. Conversely, low-priced supplements may not be the best deal. Focus on the factors mentioned above rather than price alone.

5. Consult with a Healthcare Professional:

If you have specific health concerns or are unsure which supplements are right for you, consult with a healthcare professional. Functional medicine practitioners tend to be experts on supplements and holistic approaches to health challenges – they are likely a better resource for natural supplements than more conventional doctors or pharmacists and can provide personalised guidance based on your needs. Be sure to ask for specific recommendations on what and how much you should be taking.

So, here's the takeaway: When you're on the hunt for supplements, don't just fall for flashy labels, buzz words or the latest compound you heard about. Dig a little deeper, pay attention to those blends, and insist on transparency from the brands you trust with your health. Your mind and body deserve the best, and with a bit of knowledge, you can make sure you're getting it.

Sleep Your Way to the Top with Thirdzy

At Thirdzy, we pride ourselves on being very transparent about our ingredients and providing each of our active ingredients in clinically relevant doses. When we started our company, we set out to make a sleep and recovery supplement that actually worked. The reason our PM Recovery Collagen is a drink powder, and not a pill, is that the serving size is too large to take in pill form. We have only 4 active ingredients in a whopping 14.2 grams of product (collagen, magnesium, GABA, and L-theanine)!


Thirdzy is also Informed Sport certified – which means we have third party testing conducted on all of our product so you can trust that each ingredient is in there in the right amounts and that our supplements do not contain any contaminants or banned substances.


We’re committed to being your most trusted partner in the bedroom. And whether you’re sleeping with us or not, we hope that this article has helped armed you with information to make better supplement decisions and avoid buying products that aren’t worth your hard earned money.


Sleep tight,
Dr. Justine