The World of Nutritional Supplements is a Confusing Landscape.
Here’s some information to help keep you from getting lost in the Vitamin Jungle:
I do Nutritional Counseling and offer Natural Therapies for many common disorders, such as indigestion/reflux, hypothyroid, high cholesterol, adrenal fatigue, ADHD/ADD, Sports Performance, diabetes, PMS, menopause and many others. A high quality source of vitamins and minerals is the foundation of healing and optimal health. Here are some of the questions I have been asked:
Q: Why do I need to take a vitamin/mineral supplement?
A: 1) Foods do not contain the nutrients that they used to.
Because we have gone from small, organically grown farms to large, high production farms, the minerals have been leached from the soil and the vitamin content is much lower:
“Over the last 50 years, potatoes have lost 100% of their vitamin A, 57% of vitamin C, 50% of riboflavin, 28% of calcium and 18% of thiamine.”- The Globe, Canada
“Our food has degraded so that you would now have to eat 8 oranges today to get the same amount of vitamin A that your grandparents got from eating one orange.”- Professor Tim Lang, Center for Food Policy
2) Our lifestyles get in the way of good nutrition.
The National Cancer Institute has proclaimed that eating 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables every day can reduce your chances of getting cancer. The American Heart Association says the same will reduce your change of heart attacks and strokes. It has been estimated that 1/3 of meals eaten away from home, are eaten in a car!
3) Vitamin and mineral supplementation can reduce your risk for diseases and infections.
” Many food components commonly found in our food are being shown to be effective against disease and infection. However, the levels at which these nutrients are effective are higher than can be obtained in a ‘normal diet.’”- Godfrey Oakley, M.D., New England Journal of Medicine
Q: What kind of supplement do you recommend?
A: A high quality supplement that will be effective.
Scenario: You are taking a prescription drug to lower your blood pressure – to reduce your change of dying prematurely from a heart attack or stroke. You have a choice of buying the originally prescribed drug that has been proven in medical studies to provide this protection…OR…you can buy a lower priced generic version that has not been proven to be effective. It’s obvious that trying to save a few cents per day might be giving us a false sense of protection. The same difference applies between a high quality and low quality supplement.
Q: What’s the difference between a high quality and low quality supplement?
A: Here’s a tip that can help you make a quick assessment – without having a degree in Biochemistry!
Low quality supplements are made with cheap ingredients. The cheaper ingredients are not as effective as the higher quality ones.
Tip: Look on the label for the source of calcium, magnesium and zinc. If it contains calcium carbonate, magnesium oxide and zinc oxide, it is probably a lower quality supplement. If it contains calcium citrate, magnesium citrate or aspartate, zinc picolinate or a “chelated” version of any of these minerals, then it is probably a high quality supplement.
A biochemist did an exhaustive study of the vitamin/mineral supplement market. (“The Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements” by Lyle MacWilliam, BSc, MSc ) . He compared the quality of manufacturing, the quality and level of ingredients, and their absorption in the body. He analyzed over 500 products and gave them a numerical score with “100” being the best and “0” being the worst. This is excerpted from his book:
Centrum 3.2 One-A-Day Active 5.1 Centrum Silver 4.7 One-A-Day Advanced Men 4.6 GNC Mega Men’s 21.1 One-A-Day Advanced Women 1.9 GNC Ultra Mega Gold 37.1 Walgreen’s Ultra Choice 22.1
The supplement that I take and prescribe to my patients is Douglas Labs Ultrapreventive X – it scored 95.4. If you would like to look up the results of your supplement, stop by our office and we’ll help you compare it. Most of us wear a seat belt when we travel in a car. Not because we believe it will prevent us from having an accident, but because if we do have an accident, statistics have shown that a seat belt will offer us a much greater chance of survival. Taking a high quality vitamin/mineral supplement is like a “seat belt for your health.” However, if the quality of your supplement is too low, you are wasting your money, It is like having your seat belt pulled across your body, but not clicked in. You don’t have the protection you think you do! The most expensive vitamin/mineral supplement that you can buy….is the one that doesn’t work!! There’s An Epidemic Among Us!