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Choosing the Right Supplement
By Linda Mackenzie C.H.T., Ph.D. (c)

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, E.

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, vitamin C

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 selecting supplements.

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 preservatives.

Do not choose a supplement based on price. Some high end vitamins may be supporting advertising costs and are not necessarily using better ingredients.

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 price low.

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 synergistically together.

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 than supplement.

Do remember it will usually take a 4-6 week period before you see the effect of any supplement.

© 2017 Linda A. Mackenzie