There are hundreds of thousands of vitamin supplements available on today’s market. You can buy them at health food stores, drug stores, grocery stories, various retailers, through health care professionals, and on the internet. When choosing a supplement, how do you determine which one to buy? Do you look at the package details, the manufacturer, the ingredients, and the label claims? But how do you really know for sure you are getting the best supplement for you?
It can be very confusing to determine which supplement to buy. Understanding the label will help you know if you are taking a quality supplement. Look at the ingredients listed on the label. Do you recognize any of them? Just like any other food label, the nutrients are listed in a particular order and some manufacturers put the source next to the nutrient. In a quality, wholesome product you will recognize and be able to pronounce most of the ingredients on the label.
I personally recommend whole food supplements. Whole food supplements are made by concentrating foods. When concentrated correctly, the foods supply a multitude of nutrients. These nutrients work together to provide you with optimal nutrition for good health. Only whole food ingredients can provide you with all the nutrients contained within the food. For example, I looked at a supplement a patient brought in the other day and one of its ingredients is dl-alpha tocopherol acetate. That is a manmade component of the vitamin E complex. If you were to take a supplement with just dl-alpha tocopherol, you would be missing at least 5 other important nutrients as well as hundreds of other nutrients that occur within the whole vitamin E complex. These nutrients are only available by consuming a natural, whole food form of vitamin E, such as wheat germ oil, green leafy vegetables, nuts and carrots.
Just like any recipe, the quality of the ingredients you use affects the quality of the final product. Therefore, it’s good to answer all of the following questions when evaluating a supplement and its effectiveness.
- Where do the ingredients come from? Manufacturers who grow many of their ingredients have the unique ability to control the quality of the ingredient from seed to supplement.
- When are ingredients processed? When you buy a tomato, you inspect it for quality. You wouldn’t knowingly buy one that was mushy or bruised. This same principle holds true for the ingredients in your supplements. Once they are ready for harvest and are harvested, the ingredients begin to lose their value. If there is a delay of hours, days, or months from when an ingredient is harvested to when it’s processed, many of its very delicate phytonutrients are lost.
- Are the ingredient’s vital factors retained? Each ingredient has its own set of rules in relation to how to best package its vital components. The manufacturing process needs to retain the vital nutrients within the ingredients. Too much heat will destroy enzymes and phytonutrients. The manufacturer should use a low-temperature high-vacuum process to make sure that the ingredient’s nutrients are preserved.
Now you may be saying, how am I supposed to answer these questions about the supplement I’m taking? You may not be able to. However, if you’re taking a certain brand of supplements and only that brand, you may want to do a little research into that company. For example, I utilize the Standard Process supplements a lot, and if I go to their website I’m able to get these questions answered. A good supplement company should be willing to disclose information about how it manufactures their vitamins. Another thing that I like about Standard Process is the company is partnered with MediHerb, an Australian-based company. You may or may not know that in the United States the FDA does not regulate vitamins or supplements. I know this is a political issue right now for some, but one thing that FDA regulation does do is it ensures that what the manufacturer says is in that supplement is in the supplement. Well, in Australia, their supplements are regulated by their version of the FDA. Therefore, you know that what the label says is correct.
The main thing you need to remember when purchasing a supplement is you want one that’s from a reputable company with the least amount of man-made products.