Have you ever gone to the isle of the supplements in a supermarket or searched for a specific type of vitamin on the internet and got lost in making the right choice for you or your family? Your are not alone. Here are some things to consider to help:
Advertisements about dietary supplements are everywhere. They are marketed in commercials, on social media, advertised through flyers, posters, and brochures, and even endorsed by family members, friends, and health care providers. Given the amount of information that people are constantly presented with, figuring out what type of supplement to buy quickly becomes a difficult task. In addition to these factors, it is hard to choose supplements because there are just so many choices.
2. Understanding the Ingredients
Another major issue involves understanding the types of ingredients that are added to various supplements. More specifically, a number of laws have been passed that allow manufacturing companies to add harmful substances to dietary supplements in the form of synthetic vitamins and minerals, preservatives, additives, foaming agents, artificial coloring, fillers, stabilizers, thickeners, binders, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Research shows that the body struggles to breakdown synthetic substances, GMOs, and many of the other ingredients in highly processed supplements [1, 2]. This causes harmful and sometimes toxic substances to accumulate in the body and overtime, the buildup may lead to health problems (e.g., weak immune system, organ damage) and different types of diseases [2-4]. Therefore, when choosing a supplement, it is important to make sure that it contains natural ingredients that you recognize from a credible brand that is trusted within the public and health community. A trustworthy brand should also have positive feedback and provide research that supports their claims.
It is also important to evaluate whether the supplement can specifically target your health needs. In other words, a supplement that supports weight loss may not be beneficial for someone who is trying to strengthen their immune system. Similarly, a product for joint health probably won’t do much good for someone who is seeking to heighten their memory and overall mental performance. Therefore, it is critical to research ingredients that have been clinically proven to address the health issues that you want to target. The bioavailability, stomach acid resistance, and dose (serving) of the ingredients are also key factors to consider.
Bioavailability refers to the portion of a given serving of a nutrient that reaches the bloodstream after it is consumed . In terms of dietary supplements, bioavailability is particularly important for children and older individuals who typically have specific requirements for certain nutrients, with research showing that these two groups are especially susceptible to malnutrition or an inadequate diet .
In reference to the dose (serving), once the appropriate serving of the desired ingredients have been determined, look for supplements that provide the recommended servings in as few tablets, capsules, gummies, etc., as possible. For example, if two products have a similar price and product A provides 500 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C in 4 capsules (4 servings), but product B offers 500 mg in 2 capsules (mg), then product B provides the optimal serving of this particular ingredient for less.
Furthermore, the supplement should have a delivery system (e.g., plant-based capsule, gelatin casing) that protects the nutrients from stomach acid, controls their release into the intestines, and helps maintain their potency as they travel to the bloodstream.
6. Trust a Brand
Once you go thru all of this you are able to minimize your options to only certain brands. Trust a brand because of their general practices and business model, level of customer service when you need it, accessibility to information about the specifics on each individual formula.
In summary, when you are looking for a good dietary supplement, remember to search for one that contains a variety of natural ingredients, specifically targets your needs, offers powerful bioavailability, provides stomach acid resistant nutrients, and is manufactured by a reputable brand.
1. Napier JA, Graham IA. Tailoring plant lipid composition: designer oilseeds come of age. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 2010;13:330-337.
2. Dona A, Arvanitoyannis IS. Health risks of genetically modified foods. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2009;49(2):164-75.
3. Magaña-Gómez JA, de la Barca AM. Risk assessment of genetically modified crops for nutrition and health. Nutr Rev. 2009;67(1):1-16.
4. Bray GA. Energy and fructose from beverages sweetened with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup pose a health risk for some people. Adv Nutr. 2013;4(2):220-5.
5. Pressman P, Clemens RA, Hayes W. Bioavailability of micronutrients obtained from supplements and food: A survey and case study of the polyphenols. Toxicology Res and App. 2017;1:1-7.