5 Tips to pick out the best
Have you heard the saying, there is a pill for everything? Well, it seems to be somewhat true, whether it's for a medical condition such as anemia or constipation, or for performance enhancement athletically. The purpose and definition of a supplement is “that completes or enhances something else when added to it.” What is that something else? It is a good diet that is based in whole foods, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and lean protein. This also should be coupled with exercise, let's also put in good sleep, and less stress. You have heard this probably a million times before!
Ok, so given that, you are doing your best to meet those criteria, but it still isn't enough to meet your bodies' needs, so now you are turning to a pill. That pill could be a pharmaceutical, but ideally try a nutriceutical first. Nutriceuticals include dietary supplements as well as other categories of products based from food. Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, said “let food be your medicine and medicine be food.” Here are a few things to consider when purchasing supplements.
- The Delivery Method: Capsule, tablet, liquid or sublingual. Choosing the appropriate form is important as it can affect the results. For example, generally speaking, tablets are hard pills that may be difficult for your body to break down and absorb. An example maybe those multivitamins that are advertised by taking once per day. Sublingual means under the tongue, which is usually absorbed faster, Vitamin B12 is best in this form. Some form may also just be your preference.
- The Brand: Generic or brand name? Seems to be a dilemma in many industries. This is your health we are talking about, and my favorite saying is if we don't have health, what do we have? That being said, generally speaking, I recommend brand name. Occasionally generic maybe okay, and safer when it is a natural food store. The problem here can be that label and true contents may not match up. For example lets say you are looking a Probiotics, and label says you are getting 100 billion, but then 3 rd party testing shows that there are 50 billion.
- Location: Typically the better brands that have better results are usually found at health food stores, or doctors' offices (Naturopathic & Chiropractic). There are some other retailers that also may carry better supplements, such as The Vitamin Shoppe. For example a better fish oil brand is Nordic Naturals or Carlson's and those are carried there.
- Ingredients: We want supplements that are pure as possible, and it is best if the label says it is free of gluten, dairy, soy, egg, casein, and corn. Also stay away from food coloring, such as FD&C Yellow #6, or other similar additives or preservatives. If it is in capsule form this is usually made vegetarian.
- Form: If you are supplementing a vitamin, it is important to get the best bioavailable form, meaning the form that is most useful to your body, and best absorbed. For example, the citrate form of both iron and calcium is usually a better option.
It is always a good idea to check in with a doctor before taking anything, especially if you are on prescriptions or other supplements, there can be interactions. A great resource is Herb, Nutrient, and Drug Interactions , published by Mosby Elsevier. As a reminder when reading information such as this, it isn't intended to treat or cure any medical condition.