How To Find The Top Dietary Supplements

Are your dietary supplements for arthritis or gout the best that money can buy? Are they organic; or as one company promises, beyond organic? Are their ingredients tested for contaminants? Are they safe? Are they supported by clinical studies? Were the supplements tested prior to marketing to confirm they actually work in the human body? Does the product label accurately reflect the contents? Surprisingly, for the vast majority of dietary supplements on the market, the answer to most of these questions is a resounding NO

This article explains why. Of more importance, it directs you to the one manufacturer that answers YES to each question.

The reason most companies cannot answer YES is because they're not required to do so! Why should they go to the extra expense? While this sounds incredible, it's 100% true.

Big Brother isn't in your corner to protect you from dietary supplements. They're classified as foods, not pharmaceutical drugs. Compared to pharmaceuticals, regulations to market supplement industry products are weak and poorly enforced, to put it mildly.

If you’re considering organic dietary supplements to improve your health and arthritis symptoms, look for trusted brands from companies in business for some time. We'll show you how later in this article. In the dietary supplement market, you get what you pay for—too low in cost translate to lower quality and less results.

Pharmaceutical Side Effects Spur Safer Natural Treatment

Consumers are discovering that natural supplements ease pain symptoms and help people lead a more comfortable life. More and more people today are choosing these safer alternatives to non prescription and prescription drugs to treat arthritis, gout and other disorders.

For most people, organic plant-based supplements have little or no side effects.

Natural dietary supplements for pain relief of arthritis are often preferred in lieu of drugs when patients experience side effects such as gastrointestinal pain, bleeding, discomfort, ulcers, etc.

People switch to dietary supplements for various reasons.

Some worry whether continuous dependence on drugs threatens the safety of their future health, even if they've yet to experience side effects. Others already have side effects. They wonder how these may compromise their overall health. At greater risk, the future is bleak for those with chronic conditions, like pain, aware they may require long-term treatment.

Others want dietary supplements as a complement to drug therapy in hopes they will become less dependent on pharmaceuticals.

Still others, like myself, are chemically-sensitive and their bodies cannot escape the side effects of most drugs.

For instance, I’ve had a weak stomach and quirky digestive system all my life. I’m simply unable to stand up to the side effects of painkillers and other drugs, whether over-the-counter or prescription. I’ve tried many times before. My doctors are quick to prescribe another drug with fewer side effects. But each time, because of side effects, I’ve had to stop drug treatment and search out alternative natural methods.

What is a dietary supplement and how do you recognize one?

A dietary supplement, as defined by Congress in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994, is a product (other than tobacco) that is intended to:

  1. supplement the diet
  2. contains one or more dietary ingredients (including vitamins; minerals; herbs or other botanicals; amino acids; and other substances) or their constituents
  3. is intended to be taken by mouth as a pill, capsule, tablet, or liquid
  4. is labeled on the front panel as being a "dietary supplement"

At times, it can be confusing to tell the difference between a dietary supplement, a food, or an over-the-counter medicine. An easy way to recognize a dietary supplement is to look for the Supplement Facts Panel on the front label of the product, which should prominently say “Dietary Supplement.” Labeling information can be found under "What information must the manufacturer disclose on the label of a dietary supplement?" in the FDA online publication covering dietary supplements.

Quality supplements are the best value for your body

This may be hard to believe: Most supplements on the market have no clinical testing because pre-market efficacy testing is not required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the dietary supplement industry.

As FDA spells out in its October 6, 2011 dietary Supplements publication. it announces "FDA is responsible for taking action against any adulterated or misbranded dietary supplement product after it reaches the market". FDA makes it clear it enforces regulations ONLY after an unsafe dietary supplement reaches the market and consumer quality complaints warrant investigation. In other words, consumers are guinea pigs.

Your body receives the best value from high potency ingredients in natural dietary products produced by companies that clinically test for efficacy. The best supplements provide highest quality, beyond organic ingredient availability for your cells.

My husband and I have used pharmaceutical grade vitamins, whole food supplements, and safe herbal supplements, all from the one company we trust, for over 25 years. We’ve both used their three pain relief products since being introduced in 2003, which have greatly relieved our arthritis symptoms.

In my opinion, because there's no cure for arthritis, any safe/effective natural treatment beats out every time the potential long-term side effect risks of pharmaceutical drugs. I want to be in charge of my own health as much as possible.

A brief summary for choosing dietary nutritional supplements

There are four basic rules of thumb for choosing dietary and nutritional supplements.

  1. Look for trusted brands that have been around for some time.

  2. Read the supplement’s claims carefully. If they sound too good to be true, they probably are. You can usually spot a claim that’s based mainly on hype and only vaguely on science.

  3. Find out about the studies, if any, documenting the effectiveness of the product. If there are studies, the supplement’s manufacturer should be anxious to make them available. (The company we use lists five pages of studies and medical journal manuscripts numbering more than 120 in the back of their annual product guide and make it available online!)

  4. Check with your doctor before taking any dietary supplement. There have been issues of some supplements reaching the market-place adulterated and contaminated with heavy metals, which rightfully makes doctors nervous about the dietary supplement market.

Top dietary supplement products are made by the top companies

In my opinion, it’s the science behind dietary supplement products that separates the field. If you find the top companies, you'll also find the top supplements.

How do you find the top companies? Years ago, I asked myself the same question, because the industry had the media reputation of producing sub-standard and tainted supplements.

In twenty years of research, I’ve developed a list of 30 questions (modified over the years) to determine what standards of excellence one should expect when choosing a natural supplement company. The questions, slanted towards having a solid science base, comprehensively eliminate the pretenders from the contenders.

The answers repeatedly led me to one company, Shaklee, that stands above the others as an undisputed leader in the dietary supplement industry based on their beyond organic scientific integrity and product efficacy.

They’ve been in business for 50-plus years and have invested more than $250 million in clinical testing, research and development and have over 90 published studies in peer-reviewed scientific journals—more than any other nutritional company!

Only one dietary supplement company has a 20-year landmark study

When considering a dietary supplement, consider it first as an investment in your health. This way, you won't want to waste your money on a poorly formulated or synthetic supplement containing artificial colors, sweeteners, binders, and fillers that will not be readily absorbed into your bloodstream.

Instead, you'll want a high quality dietary supplement (especially for arthritis relief) with ingredient purity, potency, and guaranteed efficacy that the body's cells will happily absorb.

There's only one natural supplement company that can claim a 20-year clinical dietary supplement landmark study on its consumers that verifies from blood samples that its supplement users retained normal levels of blood pressure, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, C-reactive protein and homocysteine.

The 2006 study was conducted in collaboration with researchers from the U.C. Berkeley School of Public Health, comparing Shaklee's supplement users to people who took either no supplements or multivitamins from different companies and various brands. For details go to:

Arthritis Organization says supplements are useful but use them wisely

For arthritis symptom relief it is agreed that a high quality natural dietary supplement can rebuild cartilage and joint health resulting in improved flexibility, bone strength, and pain relief for degenerative joint disease (DJD).

The Arthritis Organization acknowledges this in their statement, "Dietary supplements, herbs and other natural substances can be useful for arthritis, but you have to use them wisely."

Since 1994, safety has been an issue in the dietary supplement industry. When Congress enacted the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) in 1994 it changed the way vitamins, minerals, herbs and specialty supplements are regulated by the federal government. They were no longer regulated the same as pharmaceutical drugs.

While the law empowered the FDA to ensure the safety of supplements and the validity of product claims, the FDA did not promulgate or enforce raw material (ingredient) testing regulations until the current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs) final rule was announced 13 years later in 2007. Today, the requirements of this rule for manufacturers still does not address supplement efficacy!

Are the new industry regulatons too lax?

The new cGMPs require that the raw ingredients in a supplement be tested for purity and for dosages consistent with label claims, but the new rules do not require that a supplement be tested for efficacy—the manufacturer doesn’t have to prove the product works, it just has to tell the FDA that it does.

Furthermore, the new rules do not require a consistent or industry-wide standardization in testing. They allow each manufacturer to decide this matter individually by explanation to the FDA.

The Wall Street Journal dated June 23, 2007 said: “Consumer advocates criticized the rules as too lax, saying they don’t specify how manufacturers should carry out the tests or adequately address safety problems posed by some supplements.”

Enforcement for removal of tainted supplements from the market falls on the shoulders of the FDA but only after health injustices or death have been reported by supplement consumers.

The new regulation “is an example of better late than never,” said Sen. Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat. But he said the rules “do not appear to go as far as they could have.”

Consumer focus has been drawn to counterfeit products, especially from China. “The story about melamine going into pet food produced in China was a wake-up call to the dietary supplement industry. It provided a template for the obvious things that can go wrong if you fail to vigorously inspect your supply chains and lines,” said Mr. Loren D. Israelsen, Executive Director of the United (Utah) National Products Alliance (UNPA), a trade association of dietary supplement companies.

Report says 68% of Americans took dietary supplements in 2007

The 2007 annual survey conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), Washington, D.C. reported U.S. consumer’s use of dietary supplements at 68% with 52% of adults as “regular users”.

Consumer interest in the use of supplements for health care is growing stronger in the dietary supplement market, according to Nancy White, director of marketing for the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), Harleysville, PA. The top health categories for dietary supplements, according to NMI’s 2007 Health & Wellness Trends Survey, are weight loss, heart problems, digestion, arthritis or joint pain, seasonal allergies, vision and eye health, and diabetes.

The NMI survey of the top consumer supplements for 2007 were, in order of frequency (links are to product pages of the dietary supplement company we use): multivitamins, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin E, antioxidants, vitamin B/B complex and omega 3’s (fish oil).

According to the Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ), top specialty supplements in the U.S. for 2007, in descending order, were glucosamine and/or chondroitin, homeopathics, fish oil or animal oils, CoQ10, probiotics, plant oils, and digestive enzymes.

“The growth of the top performing products in the estimated $24 billion U.S. dietary supplement market is rising at double-digit rates thanks to increased consumer focus on health (and) better industry regulation,” wrote Charles Thurston crediting industry sources in an online article for Nutraceuticals World in April, 2008.

Report says 79% of doctors recommend dietary supplements

Doctors and nurses are more likely to reinforce their patient’s interest in dietary supplements, according to CRN’s Sept. 16, 2008 Healthcare Professionals Impact Study which found that “more than three quarters of U.S. physicians (79%) and nurses (82%) recommended dietary supplements to their patients.”

The top five health reasons physicians recommend supplements to their patients, according to the CRN study, are:

  1. Bone health (33%)
  2. Overall health and wellness (32%)
  3. Joint health (29%)
  4. Heart health (26%)
  5. Maintain healthy cholesterol (22%)

While the survey did not ask physicians to specify which supplements they recommend for each condition, Annette Dickinson, Ph.D., consultant to the Life…Supplemented consumer wellness campaign, suggests some supplements to consider taking to improve health in these same five areas:

  1. Bone health: Calcium and vitamin D are the most recognized key nutrients for strengthening bones, but magnesium is also a key component of bone. Vitamin K is involved in bone formation, and vitamin C is essential for making collagen, a structural protein found in bones.

  2. Overall health: A good multivitamin with minerals is king. But other supplements can play a role too, including omega-3 from fish oils, extra vitamin D3, and antioxidant products such as green tea and Coenzyme Q-10.

  3. Joint health: Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are important contributors to joint health. There is a strong body of human clinical trials that supports the safe use of glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, or their combination for significant and long-lasting decreases in joint pain and improvements in mobility.

  4. Heart health: Omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found in “fatty” fish (like salmon) and some fish oil supplements are known to affect more than a dozen characteristics that contribute to a healthy heart. Other supplements to consider for heart health include vitamin E and the B vitamins.

  5. Maintain healthy cholesterol: Soluble fiber is recognized for its cholesterol-lowering effects and fiber supplements are available if you do not already include plenty of fiber in your diet. Soy protein, phytosterols, and stanol or sterol esters also have a cholesterol-lowering effect.

Study shows 72% of physicians use dietary supplements

The CRN survey showed that 72% of physicians say they take supplements. Of those, 87% said they take a multivitamin and 78% a Vitamin C dietary supplement. The survey did not ask doctors which brand name supplements they use.

Take a look at the top six supplements used by these doctors:

  1. Multivitamin (87%)
  2. Vitamin C (78%)
  3. B-vitamins (63%)
  4. Vitamin D (59%)
  5. Vitamin E (58%
  6. Calcium (58%)

Which natural dietary supplements may be helpful for arthritis symptoms?

For symptomatic relief of arthritis as cited by multiple health care sources, the primary dietary/herbal supplements include the following natural substances:

Glucosamine, a sugar compound found naturally in the human body, but its production slows with aging when people need it the most. In a nutritional supplement it’s thought to help repair damaged cartilage, a typical symptom of osteoarthritis and other types of arthritis. When combined in a supplement with boswellia it improves joint lubrication, joint cushioning, and restores a comfortable range of motion.

Fish Oil (Essential Omega-3 Fatty Acids) from cold water fish (tuna, mackerel, halibut, cod, salmon) are anti- inflammatory for arthritis relief. Fish oil is also effective in rheumatoid arthritis and other forms of arthritis, like gout. Good dietary fish oil supplements guarantee the removal of all contaminants such as lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, dioxins and PCBs. My husband and I use one of the world’s finest fish oil supplements. Its pharmaceutical-grade omega-3s feature a state-of-the-art, proprietary, triple molecular distillation process that concentrates natural beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and removes all impurities. It contains a full spectrum of seven omega-3’s DHA, EPA, and more. Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

Dietary supplement herbs helpful in arthritis relief

The following partial list shows herbal ingredients purported to be helpful in achieving arthritis relief naturally:

Alfalfa. The alfalfa leaf contains a wide range of healing properties that help reduce arthritic stiffness, swelling and pain in joints. It is a natural diuretic. It's strongly linked to alleviating gout flares.

Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha root contains flavanoids and many active ingredients helpful for reducing inflammatory symptoms of arthritis.

Beta sitosterol. A soybean phytosterol that helps blunt cortisol—a hormone produced during stress that affects long-term health. It's combined with ashwagandha (above). For varied reasons, stress is a common aggravation for many arthritis sufferers.

Borage Oil (GLA). Borage seed oil is used as an anti-inflammatory and assists the body in forming prostaglandins that help regulate many normal body processes.

Boswellia. Boswellia has anti-inflammatory properties comparable to those of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Menthol. An organic compound obtained from peppermint oil with local anesthetic and counter-irritant qualities In an arthritis pain cream, menthol replaces the pain message with a cooling sensation in order to provide temporary relief from localized pain.

Safflower. Has a centuries-old tradition of medicinal use in Asia. The safflower plant provides natural alternatives for joint discomfort of arthritis. Its properties reduce pain and inflammation.

St. John’s Wort. A shrubby plant used as a natural alternative treatment for mild depression, anxiety or sleep disorders commonly linked to people with arthritis. It has far less side effects than drugs.

Valerian. An herbal dietary supplement for relief of insomnia, anxiety or restlessness. The pain and discomfort of arthritis can prevent sound sleep. The valerian root promotes a calm, restful sleep and helps maintain a relaxed state naturally.

Are vitamins helpful in arthritis relief?

Natural vitamin supplements have not been clinically proven to significantly alleviate symptoms of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

However, many vitamin supplements are recommended by health care providers to benefit overall health, which in turn may lessen arthritis symptoms. Cellular health is the beneficiary of vitamin supplementation. This includes high quality multivitamins as well as vitamins A, C, D3, E, K and the B-vitamins.

Dietary supplements are not classified as drugs, but that doesn’t mean they can’t act like them. They may interact with prescription drugs or over-the-counter drugs. That’s why it’s always advisable to get the go-ahead from your doctor.

Featured natural supplements for arthritis relief

My husband has osteoarthritis in both knees, the result of sports injuries many years ago. At one time he used both ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain relief from playing tennis. His knees were so swollen and stiff the day or two after playing tennis that he could barely get up from chairs, go up or down stairs, or get into the car.

He was skeptical that a dietary supplement could give him the equivalent pain relief as drugs. Beginning in 2003, he gradually got off synthetic over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatories completely. They weren’t working that well anyway. For many years now he has not used any drug treatment whatsoever for his knees. They are better today than they have been in ten years and the pain, swelling and stiffness reduction is remarkable.

Herbal and plant-based products sometimes take longer for the affect to take place. When it does, improvement continues over time as the body uses the natural products to help rebuild cartilage and overall joint health. They can be taken daily long-term because they are safe.

I highly recommend the following three natural pain supplements my husband uses for knee arthritis and I use for my neck arthritis as shown below:

Pain cream for muscles and joints—Consisting of natural plant extracts with pain-relieving cooling menthol, this topical analgesic provides deep temporary relief for minor pain associated with backache, arthritis, gout, bruises, sprains, and more. This product contains a proprietary blend of natural ingredients including sweet almonds, aloe vera and menthol. Its effectiveness is unique compared to other creams on the market. It’s the best we’ve ever tried. Its liposome delivery system that relieves pain up to four hours.

Joint cushioning product—Consisting of a combination of 1500 mg of glucosamine hydrochloride and 100 mg of boswllia extract, plus zinc, copper, manganese and boron, this natural dietary supplement helps build cartilage to promote flexibility, comfortable movement, enhanced mobility and range of motion. Clinical studies show Shaklee's New Advanced Joint Health Complex works in as few as five days.

Relief of pain product—Consisting of a combination of 1000 mg of clinically proven boswellia extract (resin) standardized to 4% total boswellic acid and a patent-pending 150 mg of safflower extract, it provides pain relief for overworked joints, promotes flexibility and overall comfortable movement and is gentle on the stomach. This high quality dietary supplement contains no aspirin.

Disclaimer: Health statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease

Osteoarthritis Relief. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It affects joints of the knees, hips, fingers, lower spine and neck. Click here for more on osteoarthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis Relief. Many of the natural or herbal supplements for osteoarthritis are also recommended for rheumatoid arthritis. Click here for RA natural treatment options

Herbal Pain Relief. Herbal pain relief supplements are popular complementary or alternative treatments used effectively for all symptoms of various types of arthritis. Click here for more on herbal pain relief.

Arthritis Products. Three safe natural products scientifically designed to fight pain and reduce dependency on pharmaceutical medicines. Each is unique for rapid relief and joint health. Click here for details

Joint Pain Relief. Wouldn't it be great if you could have a drug-free future with no harmful side effects and have complete control over your joint pain? It's not a dream--all of this is....Click here for more on natural joint pain relief

Glucosamine Hydrochloride. The first authentic natural helper to appear in arthritis treatment in years. As a nutritional supplement it’s thought to help repair damaged cartilage. Click here for more on glucosamine

Fish Oil. Studies validate that fish oil supplements reduce joint inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis and other arthritis types. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Click here for more information

Borage oil - GLA. Several studies confirm borage oil GLA, an omega 6 fatty acid, as an effective treatment for joint pain, stiffness and grip strength in RA patients, with few side effects. Click here for details

Valerian. Sleep well tonight with this safe herbal choice as a natural supplement for insomnia relief, restlessness and anxiety. Click here for more information

Ashwagandha. Supplements containing ashwagandha provide natural herbal stress relief without the side effects of drug treatments. Click here for more

St. John’s Wort. Helps life spirits of arthritis sufferers as a natural alternative treatment for mild depression, anxiety or ....Click here for more

Alfalfa. Known as the “father of all foods,” the alfalfa leaf contains a wide range of healing properties that help reduce arthritic pain, swelling and stiffness in joints. Click here for more on alfalfa’s benefits

Boswellia. This ancient herb has natural benefits similar to arthritis pain relief medicines but without harmful side effects. Click here for more on boswellia

Safflower. This plant’s properties reduce pain and inflammation and provide natural alternatives for joint discomfort. Click here for more about the safflower herb

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