What you need to know before buying Supplements
Whether you’re after fish oil for heart health, B vitamins for energy or magnesium for muscle aches, choosing supplements can often be a confusing and overwhelming experience unless you know exactly what to look for. Unfortunately, many people end up choosing poor quality, money wasting supplements which have no therapeutic value, so keep reading to make sure that isn’t you!
Pharmaceutical grade is the gold standard for choosing supplements as they are the most pure form, with the highest absorption rate and bioavailability in the body. But these are typically only sold by health care practitioners such as an integrative GP or clinical nutritionist and I’m aware many of you don’t have access to this, so I’ve created 3 tips which can be applied no matter where you buy your supplements, whether that’s online, in the health food shop or chemist.
Have you ever done your groceries then walked down the health food aisle only to be tempted by supplements promising you more energy or weight loss? Well keep walking, and stick to your grocery list. That’s like purchasing a car from your laundry mat, it’s just not their specialty - you will not get the most quality deal because they don’t specialise in that area. Purity is one of the major things compromised in cheap supplements (which you’ll find at the supermarket). All vitamins should be screened for impurities such as lead, mercury, pesticides, insecticides or other toxic ingredients which of course costs extra money, which is why some companies miss this step all together. One major nutrient essential to buy in a pure from is fish oil. Fish oil is easily damaged because it’s a fatty acid and sensitive to light, air and temperature. This means it looses its anti-inflammatory properties easily so needs to be manufactured carefully. It’s also commonly found to contain high levels of heavy metals like mercury, so screening for this is really important. My favourite brand is nordic naturals which you can purchase through iherb.
2. The Form Matters
when I say form, I’m referring to the word that commonly comes after the nutrient. For example, you can purchase Magnesium in many different forms such as magnesium oxide, magnesium citrate, magnesium aspartate, magnesium glycinate… This determines the bioavailability or in other words how much will actually be absorbed. A supplements effectiveness is not determined by what we take, but by what we absorb. And what we don’t absorb will literally go straight through us and end up in the toilet.
Here’s 5 major nutrients to look out for:
When choosing vitamin B12 look for methyl-cobalamin
For folate choose folinic acid or methyl-folate instead of folic acid (this is a especially important for pregnant women)
Magnesium citrate or magnesium glycinate instead of magnesium oxide
Zinc gluconate and zinc citrate instead of zinc oxide
Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) instead of vitamin D2 (calciferol)
3. Avoid Additives
Many supermarket and commercial brands have unnecessary additives to their supplements mainly because it’s cheaper to manufacture. Some additives to look out for are wheat, gluten, eggs, lactose, peanuts, glazes & coatings, GMOs, hydrogenated oils, and many more common allergens. Avoiding these means you’re getting exactly what you pay for, and you’ll get the most accurate dose, because you don’t have fillers taking up space in the tablet or capsule. The easiest way to avoid these is choose practitioner only supplements, however not everyone has access to these, so my favourite commercial brand which is still third party tested and pure is Thorne Research which you can purchase through iherb. They also use the beneficial forms I mentioned in point 2.
I want to finish by mentioning if you do have access to an integrative health care provider, it can really be a step in the right direction to help you through the process of finding a high quality nutritional supplement that will meet your personal needs. Also, never let supplements replace a good quality whole foods diet - this is the very first step to wellness and no pill can replace its value.
Becky Jane x