Vitamins, herbs, minerals, botanics … supplements are confusing, yet Americans spend over $35 billion a year on them.
We are more than just what we eat. We are what we eat, digest, absorb, convert and get past the cell membrane. That’s not exactly easy. Foods are always my preference over pills, but there are numerous times food isn’t an option, or enough, as I dug onto last week.
With that in mind, today let’s discuss whether different brands, types and structure of supplements matter. When a supplement is needed, the best one is probably going to be one you can find, afford, remember to take and one you can tolerate well. But when you have a choice, it matters.
Supplements are either lab-derived -which allows them to be standardized so it’s not always necessarily a bad thing, or food based, which is great but expensive, or whole food nutrients based which often only offers enough for a maintenance dose but not one that is therapeutic.
Beyond how they are made/derived, it’s also important to look at the various ways supplements come. For instance, tablets, caplets, powders, or liquids.
- Tablet forms are cheap, but you need very strong stomach acid to break them down in order to be able to absorb them.
- Topical supplements are a nice idea, but they often don’t work for people who are dehydrated, who have dry skin or who don’t eat enough good, quality fat.
- Capsules are typical but often filled with fillers.
- Liquid can be great option if available.
It’s important look at the ingredients of your supplements just like you would with food. Many supplements are filled with ‘other stuff’, like binders, fillers, preservatives and even sweeteners.
- Fillers add substance to a capsule to ‘fill’ it up.
- Binders help to ‘bind’ ingredients together, like in a tablet.
- Flow agents help make the manufacturing process more efficient to prevent equipment from getting gunked up.
- Coating and Glazes may help keep a tablet together or to make it easier to swallow
- Coloring and Flavoring do just as it sounds. This is where you might find hidden sugar, corn syrup, aspartame, dyes or even gluten
- Preservatives extend shelf life and include parabens, benzoates, sorbates, sulfites and more.
Where does that leave you? Be a detective. Turn the bottle over and see what’s in your supplements. It should be what’s on the front of the label. Check in with your coach, your naturopath or your doctor for guidance.
Next week I’ll fill you in on my top brands I rely on and where I buy them to ensure they come right from the manufacturer and have not been tampered with.0