Current situation: 3 supplements sitting in your cupboard that a friend told you to purchase, but you’ve barely touched them. Now, you wonder what they were for to start with.
I think we’ve all been there at one point. Whether it’s a Costco-sized bottle of Omega-3, or that bottle you spent way too much money on. Remembering to take your supplements is difficult enough, knowing which to choose is another story.
Let’s break down some important things you didn’t know about choosing the right supplement:
Let’s start this off clearly: price isn’t always the key indicator for quality. There are a few factors that can play into the price of your supplements, like where it’s sourced from, the distribution process, quality of the ingredients, the potency of the product, and marketing costs.
If price is a factor, be sure to look more at the ingredients (more on this below) and find out more about the company itself. Companies that are local and keep their processes in-house may cost less than others who out-source often and have higher operating costs.
2. Lower quality supplements will usually contain fillers
One thing many of the “cheaper” products have in common is fillers. Most of the time, companies will add non-medicinal supplements to bulk up the product, or help bind a capsule or tablet. These can include starch, calcium, salts and sugars. Depending on the supplement, the added sugars can actually do you a disservice as they can make the active ingredients kind of useless.
However, not all of these fillers are harmless. Added colours and food dyes found in many children’s vitamins or “bulk brand” supplements can have more harmful effects. Other lower-quality supplements will use preservatives like parabens, benzoates and sulphates to keep the shelf-life of a product. However, there are many other natural preservatives that are better used like antioxidant vitamins, citric acid, cysteine and methionine (1).
3. Capsules, liquids or tablets?
My advice to clients: if you can find it in liquid form, and don’t hate the test, choose that first. Capsules are second, and tablets are a worst-case scenario.
Why? Because liquids are better absorbed by our body than a tablet. A tablet needs to first be broken down, then absorbed by our body, while a liquid just needs the absorption piece. Capsules sit somewhere in the middle as their coating is quite easily broken down, and simply needed to get through to your stomach.
It’s also important to know if your body is absorbing these nutrients properly. If you have gut issues, certain forms of supplements may not be absorbed and utilized by your body.
4. What’s right for you, isn’t right for your friend
If your friend is taking a supplement you haven’t heard of before, it doesn’t mean that it’s right for you. It is even more important if you’re taking prescription medication from your doctor as many supplements can impact the efficacy of certain medications.
Some general supplements that are useful for most people include:
- Vitamin D3
- Magnesium (Glycinate)
- Omega-3 supplement (ideally animal-based)
Before you choose supplements, it is important to speak to someone who is knowledgeable about which will work best for your body and your current health picture.
5. A multi-vitamin isn’t all it’s cracked up to be
If you already take a multivitamin, please don’t stop now. Finish that bottle - you paid good money for it! However, I encourage you to look at the amounts of each nutrient in the bottle, and cross reference them with the recommended daily allowance (RDA), and your regular diet. The RDA is the amount you need to consume each day just to avoid specific diseases not to keep you feeling your best.
For example, the RDA for magnesium ranges from 300-400mg for adult men and women in Canada (2). However, one common name-brand multivitamin has 64mg. Magnesium is also commonly deficient in adults in North America.
If you eat a diet abundant in brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, a multi-vitamin may help you to get a little extra boost. However, finding out what works best for your specific health concerns will save you time and money in the long-run.
But vitamins and supplements are only part of the big picture and should always support a healthy diet and lifestyle. This means eating real, unprocessed food, including fitness in your routine and managing stress!
Want to learn more about supplements and your nutrition? Get a FREE Nutritional Consultation with one of our certified Personal Trainers, today!