How to Get the Most Bang for Your Buck Out of Your Supplements
1. Administer the supplement according to the directions.
Let’s face it: supplements can be expensive, especially the good ones that really work. It is easy to fall into the trap of feeding less than the recommended amount or letting your supply run out from time to time, but in the long run those tactics just waste money.
Research-proven supplements are carefully formulated to be fed at specific rates. Feeding more than is recommended is not going to increase the effectiveness of the product and is a waste of your hard-earned dollars. Feeding less than the recommendation may seem like a cost-saving method, but in fact it is not. When a supplement is fed at less than the recommended amount its effectiveness is compromised and the supplement is unable to do the job it was developed to do. It can be as bad as not feeding the supplement at all! When it comes to supplements, following administration instructions saves you money in the long run.
2. Understand how to use your supplements properly.
It is important to understand how a supplement works and why you are feeding it. Some supplements are developed to be fed on an as-needed basis at variable rates: electrolytes are a good example. Others, such as those that support the digestive tract, or certain vitamins and minerals, are meant to be fed daily for specific periods of time. Some supplements require a loading dose (to raise systemic levels quickly) followed by a maintenance dose, such as many joint supplements.
Feeding daily-dose supplements erratically or letting them run out causes systemic levels to fluctuate, which leads to poor results. The supplement is blamed for not working, when in reality it is being fed incorrectly so it can’t work properly. If a supplement doesn’t seem to be working, check to make sure you are following the administration directions correctly. If you are confused about how you should be administering a supplement, contact the manufacturer for advice.
3. Use the scoop provided with the supplement.
Most supplements contain a scoop that is calibrated to deliver the correct dose. Powdered or pelleted supplements should be administered by weight not volume, so if the label calls for an ounce to be fed it is typically an ounce by weight. Liquids are the exception and may be fed by volume. Since the bulk density (the weight of a solid material per unit of volume) of a supplement varies from product to product, a scoop that holds an ounce of one product many only hold ½ ounce of another. Don’t mix and match scoops from different supplements. If you lose a scoop, call the manufacturer for advice on how to weigh out the required amount of supplement and ask for a replacement scoop!
4. Store supplements according to the manufacturer’s directions.
A high-quality supplement will include storage directions on its label. Sometimes the ingredients in a supplement can lose potency or go bad when exposed to moisture, freezing temperatures, or high heat. Take the time to read the storage instructions carefully and store your supplement properly. If a supplement contains a desiccant and comes in a resealable bag, it is probably susceptible to spoilage from excess moisture, so be sure to close it up tight after each use. Reseal lids on all supplements to protect against moisture and light, which can degrade certain ingredients. Bagged products can be kept in reusable sealed containers to reduce spoilage and keep pests out. If you are mixing your supplements in feed and letting them sit for long periods of time, check with the manufacturer to see if this will have a negative effect on the product. Some vitamins will oxidize quickly once exposed to air and sunlight.
5. Pay attention to “best if used by” and expiration dates.
A high-quality supplement will have a “best if used by” or expiration date printed on the bag or bucket. Companies that develop high-quality supplements take the time to run shelf-life tests on their products. This gives the manufacturer information about how long the active ingredients in the supplement will remain effective and safe for consumption. Once you open a supplement, use it up. If you have to store it, follow the storage directions. If you have stored a supplement for a while, be sure to check the date before using it. Don’t purchase products that are past their “best use” date.