It is intimidating to choose which supplements are the best for your body because there are so many of them on the market, each claiming to be the best. But you don’t have to worry about what to buy when you know what to look for. Remember these key things when choosing vitamins and supplements.
Ingredients to Avoid
Dyes are in food, drinks, and supplements and should be avoided. They are known to have cancer-causing effects, alter genes by damaging chromosomes, and have a neuroexcitatory response. In fact, dyes and artificial colors should be avoided altogether if you experience ADD, ADHD, seizures, or are on the spectrum of autism. Dyes risk the trigger of a brain response that management of these conditions difficult. So why are there dyes in supplements in the first place? It’s a trick; they are usually in pills and gel caps packaged in clear, plastic bottles to appear more attractive and appealing. The most commonly used dyes are Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 and others may be listed.
Fillers are often necessary in supplements, but there are some that should be avoided. Hydrogenated oils are commonly found in vitamins, but create trans fats in the body leading to several serious cholesterol, heart and nerve issues.
Another common binder and preservative is maltodextrin, or sugar. (Yes, companies really put sugar in vitamins.) Maltodextrin spikes blood sugar and has NO nutritional value. Don’t waste your money on misleading products; when in doubt, look for “other ingredients” on the label.
Carrageenan is very commonly used in milk products and proteins. It is derived from seaweed and aids in mixing ingredients. Carrageenan provokes dairy sensitivity; it is commonly linked to bloating, inflammation, and other gut related digestive problems. Skip supplements containing carrageenan if you already avoid dairy.
Sodium Benzoate is typically found in soda, but also in supplements. It becomes carcinogenic when combined with Vitamin C. Keep cancer risk low and avoid sodium benzoate. The time and effort it would take to ensure you’re not accidentally taking another supplement with Vitamin C does not outweigh the ease of purchasing vitamins that don’t contain it at all.
Titanium Dioxide is used a great deal in a variety of foods and supplements. There is very new evidence that it may cause some health issues. Companies have started to move away from titanium dioxide due to concerns of causing irritation to the skin, hair, and inflammation.
Magnesium Silicate, also known as Talc, has been associated with kidney and lung cancers. In those studies the exposures were elevated over years, so take this one with a grain of salt. There have been studies in rats that did not show any accumulation or adverse reactions. Keep this one in the “use with caution” category.
Propylene Glycol (this is in antifreeze, but it is not the highly toxic Ethylene Glycol)
Propylene Glycol is used in many products in the food industry. There are concerns about its use as it has to be processed by the kidneys and liver before elimination. Those with liver and kidney issues should avoid propylene glycol. Propylene glycol toxicity has also been observed in people on benzodiazepines.
Avoid any mineral in the oxide form, for example, zinc oxide, or iron oxide. They are difficult to process and absorb, but are cheap to make which means it’s easy for companies to put big numbers on the bottle without having anything in it.
There are several types of magnesium. You may see magnesium sulfate, oxide, malate, citrate, glycinate or threonate on a bottle. Each of these forms has different uses and benefits.
Magnesium sulfate and citrate are great laxatives. Magnesium glycinate, on the other hand, reduces muscle pain, headaches and migraines. Finally, magnesium threonate is excellent at increasing magnesium levels in the brain, which has been shown to help with symptoms around Parkinson’s, improve memory, and reduce nerve pain.
Calcium-carbonate vs citrate vs microcrystalline
You most likely think of bone density when you think of calcium. Calcium is a critical mineral for life and the body prioritizes maintaining optimal levels of calcium in your blood. Let’s break this down; a hormone is elevated when calcium levels are low to cause a harvest of calcium out of your bones. Taking calcium to replace that loss is helpful, but taking the right calcium is the most important.
Carbonate is the most common form and can be a way to increase your calcium concentration but, if you have any digestive issues or stomach acid problems, your body will eliminate most of it undigested. Calcium carbonate needs strong acid to be effective.
Calcium citrate is better in the sense it is easier to digest and absorb. Ideally, products with microcrystalline calcium should be considered. Studies have shown microcrystalline calcium does not need stomach acid to be absorbed, improves blood levels after consumption, and contributes to increasing bone density.
Fish Oil – EPA, DHA
Fish oil is incredibly impactful on overall well-being, pain control, anti-inflammatory properties, cardiovascular benefits, cellular health and brain health. You can understand why it’s important to purchase a good quality product to reap these benefits, but first you need to know what to look for.
First, there must be independent lab testing information or reference to microdistillation on the label. These are indications the company is of a higher standard and prepare the oil properly. Second, be sure to read the EPA/DHA ratio and if there are filler oils listed.
The label below is an example of what to avoid. There are 683 mg of EPA and 252 mg of DHA, leaving nearly 600 mg of filler. Lemon or lime oil or mixed tocopherols are safe because they reduce burping effects. There should not be 600+ mg of wasted space. This is a marketing tactic for the illusion of “more bang for your buck.”
Below is the fish oil label from a company with a high quality product As you can see, there are no filler in the 1000mg capsule; it is all omega fatty acids and contains the exact amount you will consume from this product.
What makes a trustworthy vitamin company?
Certified Good Manufacturing Process Certification(cGMP)
This doesn’t guarantee anything but it is a great indication that the company you are looking at has taken specific steps to make sure they are delivering you a higher quality product.
References to production in a pharmaceutical facility.
The supplements you purchase should be clean and pure. Labs that meet pharmaceutical standards are going to create a great product.
Legitimate, high quality supplements don’t need to hide behind labels or unmeasurable values.
Quality and purity
Science and research-based products will be able to reference the claims of product results. Look for independent lab testing to assure purity and quality.
Taking the time to research a new supplement is important for getting the most out of what you pay for as well as effectiveness in the body. Take a long, hard look at the bottle, and give yourself time to compare different brands before committing. Once you’ve selected your favorite brand of supplements, always make sure to take them as directed for the best results. Use the tips above as a guide to help you choose the best vitamins and supplements for your nutrition regimen. Hopefully, you’ll be able to achieve your goals more quickly because of it.