Ask Dr. V: How To Buy Supplements Online The Right Way

woman buying onlineBy Dr. Yael “Dr. V” Varnado

You’re a busy lady. Maintaining your work life, home life, social life and finding time to squeeze in a little time for peace and quiet can be a challenge.

One way many of us do that these days is by ordering everything from our clothes and shoes to our supplements online.  That said, buying nutritional supplements and vitamins online is far different than purchasing a fabulous pair of heels with just the click of a mouse.

Because this purchase impacts your body not just a Friday date night outfit, here are my tips for purchasing supplements the right way online:

  1. Look at the ingredients. Know what you are buying. Skip the sugar. The ingredients that are mentioned first are the ones that have the largest percent content. Make sure to avoid supplements that have artificial sweeteners including sucralose, and aspartame.  Hard to believe they’re packed in there as well but some do, so do your research!
  1. Watch out for caffeine. Many sports supplements have high caffeine content. Caffeine in that cup o’Joe may help get you out of bed in the morning, but a large dose of caffeine before or after your workout can make you dehydrated, kick up your heart rate, and make you feel dizzy or even give you palpitations or cause you to pass out.
  1. Not all claims are true. The supplement industry is a multi-billion dollar business that isn’t regulated by the FDA. So sadly, many products make unsubstantiated and unproven claims and promises to consumers. Make sure you use good reason when you shop for supplements. Just because it’s a supplement doesn’t mean it’s healthy.
  1. supplements onlibeThink of them as the food you eat. Supplements are fuel and energy just like the food you ingest. So make sure the supplements you buy are high quality, and are well-absorbed and used by the body. Read the label and make sure that the label matches what the breakdown of what the total ingredients are reported to be on the back of the bottle. Add up the totals and make sure the dose you are getting is correct.
  1. Avoid additives, colors, and fillers. For example, if you want vegan supplements make sure they say they are vegan. Read the back of the label to ensure this statement is true even for the additives used.
  1. They have to pass the test. Make sure any herbs, macronutrients, or raw materials are tested for toxins. You want to make sure your supplements are mercury or lead free.
  1. Get doctor approval. Make sure any supplements you may take do not interact with any medications you are currently taking, including birth control pills. Check with your doctor before making changes to your supplement regimen.
  1. Ask questions. You can even inquire about their manufacturing process. Remember your body is your temple. You want to know exactly what you are putting in it.

Dr. V at workDr. Yael “Dr. V” Varnado  is a Cornell-educated physician and a medical and health expert, known for her ability to deliver straight, relatable and relevant information on timely topics that matter most.

She is passionate about women’s health issues and teaching all those she reaches about preventative care, helping to stop heath problems before they start.  Dr. V is the creator of the Live Right at Night Campaign focusing on women’s sexual and physical health and safety between the hours of 5 pm and 9 am.

She is also the founder of the Get Checked for Life non-profit that assists members of underserved communities, improving their quality of life by educating and giving them access to the necessary tools and medical resources. You can find Dr. V on Facebook and Twitter via @AskDrV and online at

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