We’re in love with this year’s winners of our Best of Supplements Awards
Supplements Are Not Drugs
Critics often decry the fact that supplements are not regulated in the same way as drugs, ignoring essential differences between the two types of products. “They don’t understand that many herbs are actually food components—spices and food flavorings,” says Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of the nonprofit American Botanical Council. “They have more of a history of use in the food domain than as a medicinal agent.” And vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other nutrients are naturally present in food.
In contrast, Blumenthal points out, “Most of the drugs we have today are synthetic chemicals that never existed in human experience before and therefore, do require additional types of testing and precautions in order to ensure their safety.”
Ironically, although drugs undergo considerable scrutiny and FDA approval before being marketed, their safety is not guaranteed. “Almost 50 percent of these drugs that go through the expensive and extensive drug approval process have to either be relabeled with more severe warnings, because of problems that become evident after they’ve been approved, or they get pulled off the market altogether,” says Blumenthal.
Supplements, on the other hand, have a much safer track record. For example, according to the CDC, there are 731,000 annual emergency room visits associated with correctly used prescription drugs, but according to an estimate in the New England Journal of Medicine, there are only 23,000 annual emergency room visits associated with supplements, and many of these involve unsupervised children and seniors who simply have difficulty swallowing pills.
AntiAging & Overall Health
Barlean’s Eye Remedy - This yummy Smoothie Tangerine emulsion features key ingredients for vision health, including lutein, zeaxanthin, astaxanthin, and grape seed and blueberry extracts.
Paradise Herbs Vitality Nectar - This mix of raw honey and herbal extracts, including organic amla, ashwagandha, and Indian long pepper, is an upgraded version of traditional Chyawanprash.
Source Naturals Top 10 Healers - Get 10 of the best-researched nutrients not typically found in daily multivitamins in one product. Includes turmeric, silymarin, and green tea and grape seed extracts.
Anxiety & Stress
Boiron Sedalia - These quick-dissolving tablets relieve symptoms of everyday stress, without causing side effects. Homeopathic medicines work naturally with your body.
Himalaya Herbal Healthcare StressCare - Designed to help people cope with everyday stress, this formula supports adrenal gland function and helps keep stress-induced cortisol levels within their normal range.
NuAxon BioScience NuEnergy - Maintain an optimum stress response and enjoy restorative sleep with this herbal blend of holy basil, ashwagandha, and shatavari.
Ridgecrest Herbals Anxiety Free - This award-winning stress relief complex increases calm and well-being; relieves stress and tension; and combats fatigue.
Brain Health & Mood
Garden of Life Dr. Formulated - Probiotics Mood+ - Noted doctor David Perlmutter, MD, created this potent blend of probiotics and organic ashwagandha and blueberries to support emotional health and relaxation.
Natural Factors Whole Earth & Sea Cogni-Fit Triple Strength DHA - Made with sustainably harvested Norwegian herring roe, this pure food formula boasts triple-strength DHA for brain power.
Wakunaga Kyolic Brain Energy
This complete brain-health formula contains a multinutrient blend of supportive herbs, vitamins, and antioxidants for mental energy and enhanced cognitive function.
Bone & Joint
Cogent Solutions Group Baxyl Joint Relief - This quickly absorbed hyaluronan supplement helps alleviate joint discomfort. It’s vegan, with no gluten, sugar, or soy.
Health Logics BioCell Collagen - Promote skin, joint, tendon, and ligament health with this patented formula, featuring a highly bioavailable matrix of collagen and hyaluronic acid.
NeoCell Joint Bursts - These delicious soft chews in Tropical Tang combine three powerhouse nutrients: collagen type 2, turmeric, and hyaluronic acid.
Detox & Cleansing
Essential Formulas REG‘ACTIV Detox & Liver Health - The star ingredient here is Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3, a probiotic strain that has been shown to support healthy glutathione levels—a key to healthy liver function.
Garden of Life Raw Organic Perfect Food Alkalizer & Detoxifier - This organic greens formula supports your body’s daily balancing act, promoting healthy elimination of toxins and supporting optimal pH balance.
Health Direct Sculpt n’ Cleanse - This gentle colon cleanse helps break down and eliminate toxic buildup in the colon and intestines. And if you want to lose weight, it can even help optimize your results.
Renew Life 3-Day Cleanse Total-Body Reset - Feel lighter and more energetic, thanks to this combination of detoxifying herbs that work together to eliminate toxins and reduce bloating.
Arthur Andrew Medical Floraphage - This prebiotic helps increase the potency of any probiotic, and works without causing gas, bloating, or upset stomach.
Bio Nutrition Activated Charcoal - Featuring a high-quality activated charcoal, a natural absorbent agent, this product helps rid the body of unwanted materials, alleviating gas and bloating.
Energy & Vitality
Gaia Herbs Adrenal Health Jump Start
This blend of herbs, including ginseng, cordyceps, and schisandra berry, is the perfect antidote to exhaustion and stress.
Mushroom Wisdom Mushroom Emperors - This formula brings together six holistic mushroom powders with eight concentrated extracts for overall health, wellness, and energy.
Novaforme Cytogreens - This concentrated powder includes green superfoods like spirulina, cracked-cell chlorella, and matcha. There are no fillers in this energizing blend.
Bricker Labs GlutnGo - Made with Tolerase G, an enzyme that beaks down gluten in the intestinal tract, GlutnGo is a smart way to protect against hidden forms of gluten.
Enzymedica Lypo Gold - This newer version of Lypo Gold has been shown to digest three times more fat than the original version. It naturally eases digestive discomfort from fatty foods.
NOW Foods Super Enzymes - Formulated with bromelain, ox bile, pancreatin, and papain, Super Enzymes helps optimize the breakdown of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.
Essential Fatty Acids
Flora Health Udo’s Choice Udo’s Oil 3•6•9 Blend - Made with organic flax, sesame, and sunflower seed oils, this plant-based liquid has the ideal 2:1:1 ratio of omega fatty acids.
Life Extension Omega Foundations Super Omega-3 - This advanced combination is molecularly distilled and features EPA and DHA from fish oil, along with sesame lignans and olive fruit and leaf extracts.
Nordic Naturals Postnatal Omega-3 - Formulated to address the unique needs of new moms, this supplement includes EPA and vitamin D3 to support a positive mood and optimal wellness after childbirth.
Hair, Skin, & Nails
BioMed Health Bao Shi Advanced Men’s Restorative Hair Nutrients - This proprietary whole-herb formula includes key nutrients to nourish hair follicles and scalp. It stimulates natural hair growth and helps promote fuller, faster-growing hair.
Country Life Maxi-Skin Collagen + C&A - Verisol collagen has been shown in clinical studies to enhance skin elasticity, boost collagen by up to 60 percent, and reduce the depth of wrinkles.
Quality of Life Exequel - This probiotic-based beauty booster contains a patented strain of L. acidophilus (L-92) that helps balance cytokines in the immune system, thereby improving skin health.
Reserveage Nutrition Keratin Hair Booster Powder - Strengthen your hair and nails with keratin, a building block of healthy hair. This beautifying powder also includes 3,000 mcg of the hair and nail nutrient biotin.
UP4 Heart Health Probiotics for heart health? - Yes! This formula contains the patented super strain Lactobacillus reuteri NCIMB 30242 (LRC), the first clinically proven probiotic to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
Redd Remedies 120/80 Care - Traditional Asian and Western natural medicines come together in this product to promote cardiovascular health, support blood flow, and maintain healthy blood pressure already within normal range.
A. Vogel Echinaforce Forte - These tablets feature a combination of fresh Echinacea purpurea herb and root for a healthy immune response. Made with 100 percent certified organic echinacea.
Lily of the Desert Organic Aloe Vera Juice - This preservative-free, organic aloe juice comes from the herb’s inner fillet, the water storage area of the plant. Polysaccharides in aloe help maintain an ideal stomach pH and support healthy bacteria growth.
North American Herb & Spice Oreganol P73 Oil - This antimicrobial remedy features a blend of wild Mediterranean oregano, a key ally in the fight against colds, flu, and yeast and other infections. Raw oregano is rich in a host of nutrients.
The Synergy Company Pure Synergy SuperPure Milk Thistle - Protect your liver with this patented organic milk thistle that features the ideal ratio of protective flavonolignans from silymarin (milk thistle’s active ingredient).
American BioSciences Metatrol - This patented fermented wheat germ extract is designed to promote overall cellular health, immune system function,
and general well-being.
Only Natural Berberine 1,000 - An extract found in goldenseal and other herbs, berberine is noted for its powerful immune-enhancing properties. It is also thought to improve glucose metabolism, weight management, and heart and gastrointestinal health.
Pacific Resources International Lemon & Honey Manuka Cough Elixir - Manuka honey, known as a natural cough remedy, is combined with Bryonia, a homeopathic medicine ideal for alleviating the symptoms of a dry cough.
Quantum Health Immune Support Liquid Extract - Looking for fast-acting, natural herbal protection against colds, flu, and other ailments? These drops offer natural protection against nasty bugs with elderberry, echinacea, and goldenseal.
American Health Ester-C Kidstiks - Ester-C supports immune health, and key vitamins and minerals give kids the essential nutritional support they need every day. Just mix one non-effervescent packet with water—and your youngster is good to go.
Hero Nutritionals Yummi Bears Organics Vitamin D3 - With 600 IU of vitamin D3 (the most absorbable form of vitamin D), this gummy vitamin is like sunshine in a bottle. Certified organic and GMO-free.
Similasan Kids Cold & Mucus Relief
The active ingredients in this product, made according to homeopathic principles, temporarily relieve symptoms including mucus congestion, cough, and chest and head congestion.
Wiley’s Finest Wild Alaskan Fish Oil - Elementary EPA for Kids! Help fuel your child’s healthy brain with EPA and DHA omega-3s. Also includes lutein and zeaxanthin to support eye health, and vitamins A, D3, and E for healthy skin and immune function.
Xlear Kid’s Nasal Spray - Made with xylitol, this nasal spray washes away pollutants, irritants, and other contaminants while soothing and moisturizing nasal passages affected by humidity, pollutants, or overuse of conventional nasal decongestants.
MegaFood Multi for Women and Multi for Men - Developed by Tieraona Low Dog, MD, these multis are made with whole-food nutrients and optimized forms of key vitamins.
Nature’s Way ALIVE! Max3 Daily Multi-Vitamin (No Iron) - This iron-free energizing multi packs a range of essentials into one pill, including vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, greens, and antioxidants.
Alaffia Baobab Powder - Known as the “Tree of Life,” baobab possesses nutritive powers that make it one of the world’s most vital superfoods. In its raw form, baobab is a great source of vitamin C.
Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein - This breakthrough low-carb, low-sugar protein powder has all the health benefits of homemade bone broth in a convenient, easy-to-mix form.
Natural Factors VegiDay Raw Organic Plant-Based Protein - These gluten- and soy-free, vegetarian protein powders are made with non-GMO pea, pumpkin, sacha inchi, quinoa, chia, spirulina, and chlorella.
Natural Vitality Natural Calm BATH - Magnesium (the “antistress” mineral) and Brazilian sea salt combine to provide a relaxing, detoxifying spa experience in your bathtub.
LifeSeasons Pain Bloc-R - Put an end to mild-to-moderate pain with the help of this targeted blend, which includes L-theanine, L-tetrahydropalmatine, white willow bark extract, and Angelica dahurica root (Chinese Bai Zhi).
New Chapter Zyflamend - These vegetarian capsules harness the power of 10 potent botanicals that support the body’s natural, healthy inflammation response for less pain and greater mobility.
Solstice Medicine Company Pain Relief Patch - These easy-to-use patches contain Chinese herbs that effectively relieve muscle and joint pain, including minor backache, arthritis, strains, bruises, and sprains.
Terry Naturally Curamin - The proprietary form of curcumin used here (BCM-95) has been clinically proven to provide consistent and long-lasting pain relief. Boswellia and nattokinase are also included to ease pain.
Dr. King’s Natural Pet Pharmaceuticals Dog Allergies - Relieve your dog’s allergy symptoms naturally (no side effects), including sneezing, and red, itchy eyes, ears, nose, and skin.
Newton Homeopathics Pets Nervousness ~ Fear - This homeopathic remedy is formulated to alleviate anxiety and nervousness in animals during high-stress times such as travel or parties.
Vital Planet Flora Dog - Each scoop provides more than 20 billion live probiotic cultures from 10 unique strains. It comes in a convenient powder form that’s easy to sprinkle on your dog’s food.
Dr. Mercola Premium Products Complete Probiotics 70 Billion CFU - This probiotic supplement features 10 strains of beneficial bacteria, including the highly effective strain Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1.
Solgar Probi 30 Billion - Support bowel and digestive health with Lactobacillus plantarum LP299va, a probiotic backed by more than 10 years of scientific review. Can also ease occasional gas and bloating.
Vibrant Health Vibrant Flora Improved Bowel Support - Probiotics - Each serving of this probiotic powder combines 100 billion live cultures with fiber and other nutrients to help ease irritable bowel syndrome.
BioChem 100% Whey Protein Matcha Tea - Featuring whey protein sourced from grass-fed cows, this tasty powder also includes 1,000 mg of matcha green tea per serving. Bonus: it’s sweetened with stevia.
Kura Nutrition New Zealand Protein Smoothie Powder
Made with non-GMO milk and whey from New Zealand cows, these individual packets make it easy to create the perfect smoothie. Choose from Vanilla, Berry, and Chocolate flavors.
Naturade VeganSmart All-in-One Nutritional Shake - Five different non- GMO plant-based proteins make up this great-tasting powder. One serving provides essential amino acids, fiber, omega fats, and a range of vitamins and minerals.
Jarrow Formulas B-Right - Looking for a well-balanced B-complex formula? This is it. Featuring the best (most absorbable) forms of key B vitamins at dosages recommended by holistic doctors.
Lumina Health Cellfood Essential Silica Formula - Silica may be a key factor in maintaining healthier, more youthful joints, skin, hair, teeth and gums. This formula contains easy-to-absorb silica plus additional supportive trace minerals.
Nature’s Answer Plant Based Cal-Mag - These vegetarian capsules feature plant-based calcium and magnesium derived from Iceland Arctic red algae and seawater, along with 72 trace minerals.
Natrol Melatonin 5mg Fast Dissolve - For occasional sleeplessness, nighttime relaxation, and overall health, melatonin can’t be beat. We love these strawberry-flavored, fast-dissolving tablets, sweetened with xylitol.
youtheory Sleep Nighttime Powder - This lemon-lime-flavored drink mix features relaxing amino acids, calming magnesium, and melatonin to help you fall asleep quicker, and experience deeper, more refreshing sleep.
Weight Loss & Blood Sugar
Bluebonnet Nutrition Skinny Garcinia - Maintain a healthy weight with this combination of standardized Garcinia cambogia (as Super CitriMax) and a well-rounded blend of other key weight-loss nutrients—none of which are stimulants.
Irwin Naturals 3-in-1 Carb Blocker Maximum Strength - Specifically designed for those who eat pasta, bread, and other carbs, this formula works to neutralize starch enzymes, boost metabolism, and improve digestion.
Michael’s Naturopathic Programs Sugar/Glucose Metabolism Factors - This intriguing blend of blood-sugar-balancing nutrients features ChromeMate chromium, Opti-Zinc, essential fats, blueberry leaf, and nopales in one easy-to-absorb formula.
Women & Men’s Health
Carlson Labs Men’s Probiotics - Formulated to meet the gastrointestinal needs of men, these capsules contain a blend of 15 billion pure, live cultures to support the health, growth, and maintenance of friendly bacteria in the gut.
Rainbow Light Prenatal One - This once-daily prenatal multivitamin provides important vitamins and minerals in a base of superfood extracts that promote baby’s healthy development and mom’s nutrition and energy.
SuperNutrition Men’s Blend Antioxidant-Rich Multivitamin - No need to spend money on multiple products—try this antioxidant-rich multi, enriched with organic herbs and green foods, as well as 1,000 mcg of folic acid for heart health.
GMP: A Certification that Matters
The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, commonly referred to as DSHEA (typically pronounced “duh-SHAY”), regulates those who manufacture, distribute, and sell supplements.
According to DSHEA, supplement production must follow very specific standards set by the FDA, called good manufacturing practices, or GMPs for short. There are copious written rules that dictate everything from facility plumbing, air temperature, and filtration to verification of identity and purity of each ingredient, testing and labeling of each finished batch, and prevention of possible contamination from neighboring properties. Employee training and procedures have to be documented as well.
GMPs also require that customer complaints (even if they aren’t adverse events) and their resolutions must be documented. FDA inspectors can (and do) walk in unannounced at any time, and may spend days doing inspections of premises, procedures, equipment, ingredients, finished products, and all documentation.
The FDA did not issue final regulations for GMPs until 2007—13 years after DSHEA became law. Meanwhile, many companies adopted such quality-control practices much earlier, and in 2000, the Natural Products Association began a voluntary certification program, using third-party inspectors, to validate and recognize companies meeting set standards.
Reputable companies strive not only to meet but also to exceed legal standards, and provide information about the quality of their ingredients, processes, and finished products on their websites and on product labels. Of course, there are bad apples who don’t play by the rules, but they can be avoided by researching manufacturers and being an informed consumer.