container of vitamins and supplements

What to Look for in Your Supplement

LAST UPDATED: November 10, 2022

Supplements are often promoted as the be-all-end-all of common health problems. From hair loss to fatigue, there’s a supplement for that! 

Supplements are a great way of improving your overall well-being and combating vitamin deficiencies; however, there are some issues that spring up when self-prescribing supplements.

two fingers holding a vitamin capsule against a yellow background

Self-Prescribing Supplements

You may not have heard of the term “self-prescribed supplements” but millions of people everyday buy supplements without knowing whether or not they actually need them. 

Since supplements are promoted as safe to take and can be purchased over the counter (OTC), customers rarely think about the fact that supplements might come with side effects or they might interact with other medications! 

This is the issue with self-prescribing. Self-prescribing is when an individual buys a supplement to take regularly without any guidance from a doctor or research to back up their personal need for that supplement. 

A display wall full of different health remedies

Self-prescribing is very common in the wellness industry. This is because vitamins do not need to be prescribed by a doctor. You can’t overdose on vitamins in the same ways that you can overdose on prescription medication. And vitamin providers and manufacturers only need to provide nutritional information and ingredient listings on the bottle. 

Therefore, finding the right supplements for your health is really up to you. Luckily, it does not have to be this hard, as personalized supplements based on your genome are available and 100% worth the effort. 


Risks of Self-prescribing Supplements

The reality is that some supplements do have potentially dangerous side effects and can interact poorly with some prescription medications. Therefore, individuals who self-prescribe should look into side effects, dose recommendations, and potential interactions with other medications before self-prescribing. 

Other issues could arise due to physiological or genetic conditions. Some bodies are more susceptible to odd physiological reactions, and these individuals could experience adverse effects from supplements that don’t agree with their biological makeup. 

It can be nearly impossible to know about these imbalances without first knowing what’s going on inside our bodies. We may not know that our bodies even react a certain way to different vitamins until a negative reaction happens. 

A weekly pill container overflowing with vitamins on a purple background

Supplement brands and general information about vitamins online promote the use of vitamins for optimal health. In fact, these brands generally suggest that you can’t have too much of a good thing (hmm, maybe not the case) and that there are no significant reasons why individuals shouldn’t be taking vitamin supplements. 

Doctors also say that we get the daily recommended intake of vitamins through a normal, variegated diet. A varied, colorful diet will get us everything that we need in terms of vitamin and mineral intake. 

But there are other factors to consider. 

For example, not all individuals have the means to access a varied and healthy diet. And food allergies can affect what we eat as well. So supplements can support those who struggle to get their daily vitamins whatever the reasoning is.

We might also be taking too many supplements. Vitamin A has been known to reach toxic levels in children who take too much. And a retrospective study on the effects of vitamin K, issued at high doses usually to treat thrombosis, found these high doses to cause significant bleeding

Without knowing what our bodies need, we could be taking supplements that don’t agree with our chemical makeup. This might be disrupting our internal balance.


Things Consider When Choosing Your Supplements

It’s true—vitamins are an essential part of our human functions, and without them, we would die. 

If you’re looking to supplement your current diet with vitamins, then you should consider the following:

  1. Identify the main reasons why you are choosing supplements. If you want more energy, silky-smooth skin, or shinier hair, use this to narrow down your search. 
  2. Consider what you really know about what your body needs. Visiting a dietician, naturopath, or getting DNA tested for nutritional recommendations could help you understand the nutritional symptoms that you’re seeing. 
  3. Supplements should be supported by lifestyle changes. Supplements aren’t a quick fix for fatigue or splotchy skin. Consider why you are taking supplements and make the lifestyle changes that can support the effects. For example, you might feel encouraged to take Biotin to improve your hair, skin, and nail quality, but too much wine in the evenings might stop your body from absorbing Biotin!

Additionally, dietary supplements don’t need to be FDA-approved, which means that it’s up to the consumer (and the brand) to determine if the supplement is safe to use. 

Buying off-brand supplements might mean you’re really ingesting large amounts of additives, including those that aren’t GMO-free or vegan! I mean, go for it, if you’re into that sort of stuff…


Finding the Best Supplements Through DNA Testing

Finding good supplements, and supplements that your body needs, is tricky. 

And without the proper scientific testing, you might not know if your body is receptive to the supplements you’re taking. Genetic roadblocks could lead to lower supplemental absorption rates, toxic levels of vitamins in your system, or wasted vitamins—and without testing your DNA, you wouldn’t know until it was too late! 

Test your genetics to find out what is really going on inside. This can help you find the right supplements for your lifestyle. You may be getting the right nutrients, but it’s more than that. Understand how your body metabolizes, synthesizes, and absorbs nutrients.

A scientist examines a slide under a microscope

Autumn’s testing can help you here. Autumn only looks at the genome strands that relate to nutritional recommendations. 

Frequently called “snips,” studies have found that SNPs might be able to indicate how an individual would respond to certain drugs, their risk for diseases, and inherited disease-related genes. So, Autumn’s FDA-approved testing kit only collects 500 SNP data points (out of 100,000 available in the genome) to target the most actionable genes specific to nutrition.

Visual of compound

SNPs are powerful for predictive medicine and nutrition, but it’s important that only a small amount of SNPs are collected. Autumn only uses the targeted nutritional SNPs so that your genetic privacy is maintained and unnecessary data points aren’t collected. 

 Based on genetics and a lifestyle quiz, Autumn then generates personalized supplement and vitamin recommendations in the form of a monthly supplement subscription! This subscription is based on Autumn’s proprietary algorithm that was built by a diverse group of medical professionals, including nutritionists, naturopaths, geneticists, pharmacists, and physicians. 

In other words, Autumn can generate a supplementation plan that works with your genetic data and lifestyle to support your optimal health.