Years ago it was much easier to know what to buy. You asked for
a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement. Today vitamins and minerals
come under the title of dietary supplements. Buying a dietary
supplement is not as easy as it looks. There are hundreds of different
brands, high priced and low priced supplements and even different
qualities. Add the questions of what your body specifically needs
and how much should you take and the maze of supplement buying
becomes even harder. Here are some facts that may help you make
a better choice.
What are Supplements?
Vitamins -are micronutrients and co-enzymes, that are essential
to life. Vitamins are involved in metabolism and the biochemical
processes that release energy. There are water-soluble vitamins
that the body cannot store and need to be taken daily and oil
soluble vitamins that are stored in fatty tissue and the liver
for longer periods of time. Examples of water soluble vitamins
are: C, B complex. Examples of oil soluble vitamins are: A, D,
Minerals -bulk minerals or macrominerals are needed in
larger amounts than trace minerals (microminerals). Minerals are
primarily stored in the bone and muscle tissue and, among other
things, are basically needed to maintain chemical balance of the
body's systems. Examples of bulk minerals are: calcium, magnesium.
Examples of trace minerals are: copper, iron, zinc, chromium.
Amino Acids -are made up of proteins and are known as the
building blocks of life. Proteins are necessary for every cell
in the body. There are about 28 amino acids that are combined
to create the hundreds of proteins that the body needs for life.
Examples are: L-arginine, L-carnitine, L-glutamine.
Antioxidants -are a group of vitamins, minerals and enzymes
that help fight free radicals that can cause damage to living
cells. Examples are: coenzyme Q10, glutathione, melatonin, zinc,
Enzymes -are called the sparks of life because they are
energized protein molecules that are needed for food digestion,
brain stimulation, cellular energy and repair. Examples are amylase,
cellulase, lipase, protease and lactase.
Natural or Whole Food Supplements -are derived from the
byproducts of food that are high in nutrients or have active ingredients
to aid metabolism or digestion. Examples are: alfalfa, aloe, acidolphilus,
bee pollen and bee propolis.
Herbs -are plants that perform healing and maintenance
functions in the body. Herbs are powerful medicine that need to
be treated with knowledge and respect. All parts of a plant can
be considered an herb and each part (e.g., the leaves, the roots)
may have a different use. Examples: garlic, ginger, gingko biloba,
milk thistle, ginseng.
Essential Fatty Acids -also known as EFAs are the building
blocks of the good fats and oils that the body can't produce and
are necessary for good health. Examples: fish oil, borage oil,
flaxseed oil, safflower oil.
Bioflavinoids -enhance vitamin absorption should be taken
together with vitamin C.
Green Foods -are body detoxifiers, and a good source of
nutrients for energy. Examples are: chlorella, spirulina, barley
grass and wheat grass juice.
Fiber -helps lower cholesterol and maintain blood sugar
levels in the body. Examples are: apple pectin and oatbran.
Selecting a Supplement.
Here is some information on the "Do's and Don'ts" of
Do not choose a supplement that is not a natural color. (Red,
Blue or Purple supplements contain artificial dyes or colorings.)
Do not choose supplements with synthetic vitamin C & E. These
are produced in a laboratory and are not natural. There are differences
in functions, breakdown and absorption. The best natural source
of Vitamin E are mixed d-tocopherols (not dl-tocopherols) and
natural sources for vitamin C are rose hips and calcium ascorbate.
Avoid supplements with sugar, starch, corn, wheat, iron, dairy,
salt, artificial flavorings, artificial sweeteners or artificial
Do not choose a supplement based on price. Some high end vitamins
may be supporting advertising costs and are not necessarily using
Do not choose a supplement that is low priced because you may
be not be getting the potency you need, they may be using synthetics
or using a high amount of fillers such as cellulose to keep the
Do not assume that by buying a name brand that you are getting
quality. A lot of the known brands these days have been bought
out by big conglomerates which have a larger overhead cost and
they may or may not skimp on the quality of the supplement.
Do try to find a basic multi-supplement that includes all the
vitamins, minerals, bioflavinoids, enzymes, natural food concentrates,
antioxidants, herbs, essential fatty acids, fiber and green foods
in one formula. This will keep the amount of pills you are take
to a minimum and will also be better for your budget.
Do buy a supplement that is made in a pharmaceutical grade, FDA
approved facility. These facilities adhere to higher quality control
from the raw material stage to the finished product.
Do buy from a reputable manufacturer.
Do buy a medium priced product for the best value.
Do remember that manufacturer's normally make supplement dosages
for a person of 140 lbs. in weight. So adjust the amount of the
supplement you are taking accordingly.
Do buy a vitamin with all the B's in it because all the B's work
Do remember when you are ill that you may need to take additional
Vitamin C, E and B complex. So take this into consideration when
you are selecting your daily multi supplement.
Do remember that on a label the "other ingredients"are
listed in order of potency. So if you see fillers like cellulose,
before the actual supplement name, you are getting more fillers
Do remember it will usually take a 4-6 week period before you
see the effect of any supplement.