A pill box with colorful pills, a powdered drink, and a scoop of powder.

The Edge’s Dietary Supplement Methodology

Here’s exactly how we select supps.

The content of this methodology is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding dietary supplements.

The Edge delivers science-backed, expert-driven content to help you optimize your health journey. For some people, that includes taking supplements. But in a sea of supplements touting lofty health benefits, it’s difficult to decipher which are worthwhile. That’s why we’re dedicated to only recommending supplements that are safe and effective. Here’s how we carefully evaluate and select dietary supplements in our content.  

What Are Dietary Supplements?

Under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, dietary supplements are defined as any “product intended for ingestion that contains a ‘dietary ingredient’ intended to supplement the diet.” 

Dietary ingredients can include vitamins, minerals, herbs and botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, probiotics, and extracts. Typically, dietary supplements take the form of pills, capsules, gummies, powders, or liquids. 

Why Take Supplements?

The better question here is, do you even need to take supplements? Generally speaking, you should prioritize getting nutrients from your diet via whole foods. But some people may benefit from supplements in certain circumstances. For example, if you: 

Remember: With vitamins and nutrients, more isn’t always better. Consuming well over the upper limits of fat-soluble supplements (vitamins A, D, E, and K) can lead to toxicity over time, for example. 

If you’re not sure what supplements you need or where to start, speak with your physician. They can test for nutrient deficiencies and suggest supplements to address them. They’ll also help you identify whether a supplement may interfere with prescription or OTC medication you take. 

How Supplements Are Regulated

That’s the thing: they’re not. While the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regulates food, cosmetics, and drugs designed to treat or cure health conditions, it doesn’t verify the efficacy or safety of supplements. 

The FDA also doesn’t approve supplement labels, though it does suggest guidelines for supplement manufacturers to follow. These include listing the net quantity of contents, supplement facts, and ingredients, but not the dose. The manufacturer must also ensure their product doesn’t claim to provide a benefit it can’t support through research. 

Supplement companies are also required to adhere to cGMP (Current Good Manufacturing Practices) regulations, which ensure supplements are made in a safe and clean FDA-registered facility.

Still, not every company upholds the FDA’s guidelines.

How We Choose Supplements

We look for these attributes to source the highest-quality supplements:

We scour the marketplace for products that check as many of the above boxes as possible. Our end goal is to help you to make an educated buying decision between the best-of-the-best options available.

Science-backed ingredients

We comb through the latest research on supplements and their ingredients before recommending a product. Our medical review team—which consists of experts who are highly trained in their respective fields—double-checks that the information in this research is accurate and up to date. 

Because science is constantly changing, our team continuously monitors the latest research on the safety, validity, and efficacy of supplements, and updates our recommendations accordingly. 


We ask board-certified doctors, researchers, and registered dietitians to advise on nuances like the evidence behind the supplement, who might need the supplement (and doesn’t), when and how much to take, the best form, and potential interactions. 

cGMP certified

Companies aren’t required to prove their product is safe. But cGMP regulations ensure all supplements are at least made in a safe and clean FDA-registered facility.

Third-party tested and certified 

Since supplements lack strict regulations, third-party testing can confirm safety and effectiveness. Independent lab testing ensures supplements contain only the ingredients stated on the label. They also confirm products aren’t contaminated with problematic ingredients like heavy metals or chemicals. 

Third-party testing organizations we look for include: 

For sports performance-related supplements like protein powder or pre-workout, we look for:

These indicate products contain added ingredients in approved amounts. They also ensure there are no unwanted ingredients that might show up on routine athletic drug tests.  

These certifications can be expensive. So, if a supplement isn’t third-party tested or certified, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad product. If third-party testing is lacking, we look to other signs of integrity like internal testing for heavy metals or other contaminants, cGMP certification, and transparency about ingredient sourcing, ingredient amounts (versus hiding ingredients behind proprietary blends), and test results. 

Additional Considerations

Beyond quality and safety, we also consider these factors when choosing supplements:


Often the type of supplement (capsule, gummy, powder, etc.) you choose comes down to personal preference. However, in instances where form matters for efficacy, we call this out. 


Nutritional needs vary based on a variety of factors, like gender, age, weight, or specific health conditions. Most supplements take general needs into account. Speak with a healthcare provider to determine the right dose for your specific needs. 


Price doesn’t always demonstrate quality. We select supplements that adhere to our guidelines at a range of price points to fit your budget without sacrificing quality or safety.

Minimally sweetened / free from artificial sweeteners

Most of us eat more sugar than we should (1), so we look for options with minimal sweeteners. The FDA considers many artificial sweeteners safe. However, some research suggests some artificial sweeteners may be linked to hormonal changes, weight gain, and GI distress (2, 3). When possible, we select products with stevia or monk fruit, which haven’t been associated with the same negative effects. 

Free of unnecessary additives

We try to avoid products that contain artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. While more research is needed, initial studies have linked some additives to unwanted side effects. For example, several artificial colors have been linked to allergies and migraines (4, 5, 6). Some emulsifiers have been associated with gut inflammation (7). 


We choose supplements with the cleanest possible ingredients. Organic supplements minimize your potential exposure to fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals which are known endocrine disruptors. Though organic farming largely uses naturally-derived pesticides, they are still chemicals.

Dietary Supplement Methodology Advisors

These guidelines were created with the help of a team of industry-leading registered dietitians, nutritional scientists, and doctors: 

Brian St. Pierre, M.S., R.D., C.S.C.S. is the Director of Nutrition and Performance at Precision Nutrition and a performance nutrition consultant for professional athletes.

Vince Kreipke, Ph.D., C.S.C.S. is a scientific advisor for supplement brands who specializes in assessing the safety and efficacy of dietary ingredients.

Megan Meyer, Ph.D., is a nutritional immunologist and a science communication consultant.

Imashi Fernando, M.S., R.D. is a registered dietitian who works in a large hospital system as a clinical dietitian who specializes in chronic diseases.