Having a good immune system is vital to enabling good health, and a balanced diet is a key component. People are increasingly taking responsibility and control of their diets with food that is not only delicious, but nutritious.

Consumers are also seeking quality supplements that add essential nutrients to their diet, while others may be interested in meal replacement products to achieve a healthy weight or to support their on-the-go healthy and active lifestyle.

But with so many products on the market, there is often confusing information on their safety and efficacy. How can consumers feel confident in a product’s claims when seemingly credible news sources sometimes contradict these statements?

Below are some tips to help you be your best health advocate:

1. Review the Ingredients.

According to a recent study by Euromonitor, consumers are increasingly taking wellness matters into their own hands: vitamins and other dietary supplements, especially those oriented around immunity, have seen spikes in demand. As a result, the supplement industry has been challenged to provide more access to information and connectivity.

The first step to becoming an informed consumer is to review the ingredients of the product. Do some research to weigh the pros and cons, and also see what the experts say.

If the brand has an FAQ or customer support portal, find out:

2. Evaluate the Brand’s Reputation.

The market is filled with new nutrition products with exciting claims that promise compelling results. Before adding a new product to your diet, take the time to research the company you are purchasing from.

Here are some questions you should ask:

While trying new products is great, it is better to trust products from a company with a long history of results and commitment to quality standards.

3. Be Critical of Information Online

If you are a student of nutritional research or an avid reader of health articles, you might discern that some research studies may have set out to prove a theory and confirm a supposition that nutritional supplements either lack efficacy or can cause health damage.

While it is good to be skeptical, it is also good to keep in mind that sometimes researchers have a predisposed bias, which can be detrimental to a product’s reputation and misinform consumers.

Let me give you an example. In our case, just like any other company in the food, nutrition or supplements industry, Herbalife Nutrition is no exception to misinformation online. Quality is at the heart of everything we do, so we regularly conduct our own independent studies of our products, and in 2013, we debunked a hypothesis that hepatotoxins would be found in our products. The study found no conclusive evidence of causality between Herbalife Nutrition products and liver disease.

Since 2005, more than 27 governments around the world have independently investigated this claim and no evidence of any association with liver disease has been found. For consumers, sifting through bias and erroneous reports is critical to learning the truth about products.

4. Compare Your Options.

Whether you’re shopping at a retail store or online, you’ll find a wealth of nutritional products that are easy to consume at home or on-the-go: protein shakes, healthy snacks, and other supplements and drinks.

When selecting from the vast array of options, take time to explore the company’s level of testing they do with their ingredients, the third-party verifications (such as NSF and ISO), and their manufacturing transparency. Sourcing is critical in ensuring that your supplements, vitamins, and other nutritional products are created with the utmost care.

Take the time to do your homework. Review the ingredients. Read the company’s website and learn how the company sources its products. Look to see if a company has a reputable advisory board and finally, know that even scientific studies can be biased. Be your own health advocate and live your best life armed with credible information.

Kristy Appelhans

Kristy AppelhansNMD, MSRA – Vice President, Global Consumer Safety

Dr. Kristy Appelhans serves as vice president of Global Consumer Safety at Herbalife Nutrition. She holds a degree in Clinical Nutrition, a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine, and a master’s in regulatory affairs. As the head of Safety at Herbalife Nutrition, Dr. Appelhans oversees a comprehensive global post-market safety surveillance program and nutrition safety education. To further channel her love for fitness and science, Dr. Appelhans is a regular judge and competitor in bodybuilding contests. Some of her favorite Herbalife Nutrition products include Simply Probiotic and Herbalife24 ACHIEVE Protein Bar Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.