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  • Denise Fixsen & Jillian Ondreyka

Supplement Safety with HS

Have you considered taking or are you currently taking supplements? There are so many supplements available, but they are not created equal. It’s important to make sure the brand you choose follows safety standards and is tested by an objective, independent third party. In this article, we will discuss the following:

  • How do I know what supplements to take and how much?

  • Why buy professional grade supplements?

  • Where can I buy high quality, professional grade supplement?​


It’s best to get your micronutrient status checked to see if you have any deficiencies so you can then personalize your supplement regimen to what your body needs.

The Micronutrient panel by Vibrant America is one option for a comprehensive panel that checks 67 vitamins and minerals along with other tests. You can also ask your doctor to order these tests from a different lab. Some states have restrictions on sending blood samples to out of state labs, such as New York.



Supplements are not reviewed by the FDA for safety and effectiveness before going to market. This means that they could contain harmful ingredients such as heavy metals (like lead), contaminants, or not even contain what they claim is in the bottle.

Trust a brand that is tested by an independent company to make sure that the bottle contains what it says it does and that it is free from contaminants.

Quality Ingredients

What you don’t know, based on a label, is what is contained in the OTHER INGREDIENTS listed. These are known as fillers. Is something in one of those general fillers a trigger for you? We don’t have the benefit of knowing the inside information on what specifically is in those other ingredients because supplements are not FDA approved, so they are not required to divulge that information.

You won’t find unnecessary “filler” ingredients in supplements by reputable companies.

Proper Storage and Handling

If the product needs to be refrigerated it will be shipped in ice packs for temperature control. Most retailers do not have the time to make sure that the products are handled safely, which requires a stringent chain of custody. Be careful of supplements sold in big box stores or large online retailers. You never know if the shipment of probiotics sat in a hot truck for hours when it was supposed to be refrigerated.

Consider when you purchase from somewhere like Amazon, or any other retailer who does not specialize in supplements:

  • Could the bottle of supplements you just purchased have been sitting in the trunk of someone’s car until they were returned to the retailer?

  • What if that supplement loses its efficacy after reaching a certain temperature?

  • What if you are now the lucky recipient of that returned product and have no idea what it has been through on its journey to you?

It’s important to buy supplements from a professional source to ensure your safety and the efficacy of the product.


Bioavailability is the readiness with which a food or supplement is able to be absorbed into the bloodstream. A high bioavailability means that it will very easily and quickly be absorbed and used in the body.

  • If you take a supplement not in a bioavailable form, then it needs to be converted into another form to become ready to use. This process is slower and less efficient in the body.

  • “Cheaper” forms of supplements tend to be in less bioavailable forms making it harder for your body to use, and in some cases, may cause more side effects like nausea, abdominal discomfort, and constipation

  • Supplements that are more bioavailable are typically gentler on the digestive system because they are easier to absorb.

  • High bioavailability also makes it more effective because your body is more efficient in using it. For some people, less side effects and more effectiveness are worth the couple bucks to upgrade to a high bioavailable form of a supplement.


What do you look for to check for supplement safety? It’s best to use professional-grade supplements. Make sure that the product has been tested by an independent company to make sure that the bottle contains what it says it does and that it is free from contaminants. Check the company website for information regarding the quality of the products and the manufacturing process used. Look for facilities that are registered as an FDA facility and use Good Manufacturing Processes (cGMP); this means that the supplements are free of cross-contamination risk.

Fullscript is the online store recommended to purchase safe, quality and professional-grade supplements. The best part is…YOU SAVE 20%! HS Connect is able to offer you access to Fullscript’s online store in partnership with Embrace Health Nutrition LLC*.

  • Take a minute to create an account

  • Once you enter the store, look for the products that have been marked “favorite” such as Zinc (with copper) and Vitamin D to help deficiencies commonly found in Hidradenitis Suppurativa

  • Enjoy a 20% discount!

  • Plus, shipping is FREE on orders of $50 or more!


Supplement doses are most likely to be safe if you stay within the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs). DRIs are a set of reference values used to plan and assess nutrient intakes of healthy people. These values include the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR), the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), the Adequate Intake (AI), and Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL). The DRI tables can be found here.


  • Estimated Average Requirement (EAR): The average daily nutrient intake level that is estimated to meet the requirements of half of the healthy individuals in a particular life stage and gender group.

  • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): The average daily dietary nutrient intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97-98 percent) healthy individuals in a particular life stage and gender group.

  • Adequate Intake (AI): The recommended average daily intake level based on observed or experimentally determined approximations or estimates of nutrient intake by a group (or groups) of apparently healthy people that are assumed to be adequate; used when an RDA cannot be determined.

  • Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL): The highest average daily nutrient intake level that is likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects to almost all individuals in the general population. As intake increases above the UL, the potential risk of adverse effects may increase.

Another great reference is the Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. This 2005 reference book was written by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.

You should be careful about taking any supplement that is above the recommended dietary reference intake. Keep in mind that research studies could use doses that are much higher than the DRIs AND these patients are monitored closely by the research staff. This is why it’s important to work with a qualified healthcare professional that can help you select appropriate supplements and doses.

As you can see from the above references, these DRIs are not updated very often. They are based on the available research and evidence at the time they were written and estimates. When data was not available, experts estimated what the intake should be. As more research is done, the DRIs may be revised as we learn more about how nutrients are used by the body.

Did you notice in the definition of DRIs that they are used in healthy populations? If there are any medical conditions present, the recommended intake could change. This is another reason it’s important to work with a qualified healthcare professional that can take your medical history into consideration while recommending supplements and doses. Your qualified healthcare professional might like to check your labs before recommending a supplement, so the dose can be customized to your needs. For example, if you have a deficiency in Vitamin D, you might need to take a higher dose to correct the deficiency. Your qualified healthcare professional may also want to perform regular labs to monitor supplement use.

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Please consult your physician or healthcare provider to discuss your unique situation. Supplement labels carry the disclaimer that their statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and that the product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Supplements can interact with medications and food so please consult your primary care provider and/or pharmacist before taking nutrition or herbal supplements.

Content in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking treatment because of something you have read on this website.

​*Embrace Health Nutrition gets a small commission on supplement sales, but passes the majority of the discount onto you!

Written by Denise Fixsen & Jillian Ondreyka, MPH, RDN, IFNCP, IBCLC, CLT

Edited by Brindley Brooks


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