If you’re already taking vitamins, that’s good news. If not, it may be time to start. There’s a lot of science behind the benefits of vitamin supplementation. Every once in a while, a study will come out that seems to reverse this science. These studies might suggest that vitamins are useless at preventing cancer or extending longevity. But they say nothing about how vitamins can help improve your everyday health and quality of life. We need vitamins to support many vital functions in the body, such as energy production and detoxification. Truth be told, vitamin supplementation can make all the difference in supporting optimal health and vitality. But not just any old vitamin will do. The next time you shop for vitamins, consider these five important tips:
Don’t always settle for the cheapest version.
True, vitamins can be expensive—but don’t just reach for the discounted vial. A low price tag on vitamins could be a red flag. If you do buy cheaper versions, do your research:
- Who is producing them?
- Is it a reliable source?
- Does the manufacturer have a certificate of accuracy?
Opt for three-times-a-day vitamins instead of the once-a-day variety.
The idea of a one-stop shop for vitamins is very appealing. ‘Once a Day’ multivitamins are convenient and affordable, yet they’re not problem-free. For starters, these tablets are covered with a special film for slow absorption. As a result, they’re hard to digest and have poor bioavailability. Vitamins that you take three times a day are not covered by this special film and are easier to absorb. The result is a more effective vitamin.
Know the difference between synthetic and natural vitamins.
Synthetic vitamins, often found in the cheaper, supermarket brands, are usually inferior to natural versions. Why? Synthetic vitamins don’t have the same molecular structure as natural ones, so the body might not recognize them or use them properly. Studies show that synthetic vitamin E is ineffective. Synthetic folic acid can even be dangerous. One exception is ascorbic acid, a synthetic form of vitamin C. This form is recognized by the body and can improve cellular function.
Buy minerals that are chelated.
Minerals are essential for health, yet they’re typically hard for the body to absorb. A process called chelation can bind the mineral such as selenium or calcium to an amino acid that helps the body to absorb it better. I recommend that you buy chelated minerals to get the full benefits.
Choose methylated vitamins when you need them.
About half the population has a gene mutation that interferes with the body’s ability to support the methylation cycle. This cycle plays an important role in the metabolism of certain nutrients. If you’re a poor methylator, you may have good levels of vitamin B12 and folic acid, yet you can develop clinical signs of deficiency. If this is the case, look for methylated vitamins such as methylocabalamin (for B12) and methyltetrahydrofolate (for folic acid).
Listen to your doctor, not your shop clerk.
If you need advice with a particular nutritional question, ask a doctor who understands nutrition (those who practice integrative medicine usually know nutrition). Don’t take the advice of a shop assistant as the final truth. Shop assistants are in the sales business. Many are not well-versed in nutrition, and have no idea about the state of your health.
If you’re in the market for vitamins, this is a great place to start. Better yet, talk to your Doctor or just ask me!
How do you feel about Vitamin and Mineral supplements?
- What kind and how often do you take them?
- What are the results?
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Stay Healthy and Live with Passion!
Igor, Ostrovsky MD, PhD.