What To Look For When Choosing Supplements

 

STOP! Don't buy another supplement before reading this!


Though I generally choose food first in my practice, very often supplements are also necessary. It takes some time to transition your family’s diet, good quality food is sometimes hard to access, and in some cases deep nutritional deficits can be supported more effectively with the addition of a supplement.

Supplements can be helpful to bring a child’s body up to a point when we start to see behaviours and symptoms changing.   After that point we can consider how diet can be used to maintain that baseline long term and improve overall health.

 

But you don’t to waste your money! Scroll down to the bottom of this post to see where I suggest you buy your supplements.

What to look for in a supplement??

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1. Nutrient Form

Each nutrient itself has different identities – forms that metabolize slightly differently in the body. Different bodies do better with different forms.

B12 is a good example of this. Many cheaper supplements include B12 in the form cyanocobalamine. When you take this form, the body has to convert it into the active form (hydroxycobalamin) and flush out the cyanide that is attached to it. Some people don’t do this effectively. Methylcobalamine, adenosylcobalamine and hydroxycobalamin are better choices as they are more readily used by the body.1

Folic acid is another example. Folic acid is a version of folate that is not easily used in by the body. Folate is the form of this B vitamin which is found in foods. There is some suggestion that synthetic folic acid is a causal factor in disease, and that about 30% of us don’t transform folic acid into folate in the body due to a genetic mutation known as MTHFR. Taking folate as MTHF (Methyl-tetra-hydro-folate) or folinic acid is usually a better choice.

A practitioner or a well educated natural products advisor can help you find a supplement that contains the right form for you. But if you don’t have access to one, going with a practitioner grade supplement will generally offer you a supplement with higher quality, more absorbable, raw material.

2. Purity

PCBs, dioxins, pesticides, metals etc are becoming a bigger and bigger problem. We are usually taking supplements to help our bodies stay healthy – we don’t want our supplements to be another source of toxicity!

One example of this is calcium. Calcium supplements are often derived from bone and shells. Bone is a storage house for lead and this might be why reports of lead contaminated calcium supplements are growing.2, 3

Fish oil is another example. Metals and chemicals are often stored in fatty tissue – if your fish oil was extracted from a contaminated fish, the oil can become a concentrated source of toxins.

Look for purity statements on your supplements. Some also have been analyzed by third party groups such as GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices), USP (United States Pharmacopea), NSF (National Sanitation Foundation). Again, the more expensive brands typically have taken this extra step to assure purity (see below for my preferred brands).

3. Potency

Many supplements, particularly those for children, contain very low, sometimes insignificant, doses of nutrients. It’s best to work with a practitioner to figure out proper dosing, but again, cheaper brands and broad spectrum supplements like multivitamins generally contain lower doses than practitioner brands that are more targeted to specific issues.

I don’t give my children a multivitamin for this reason, nor do I typically recommend them in most cases. If there are signs of particular deficiencies then it tends to be more helpful to offer a higher dose of nutrients more targeted to the issue.

4. “Non-medical” ingredients

Below the active ingredients on most supplement labels there is a list of “non medical ingredients”. These include fillers, binders, colors, flavours and sweeteners. Be sure to check for these as many of these ingredients can be irritating to your child.

In my opinion, offering a child a supplement that includes sugar, dyes and chemicals is not worth it on a cost-benefit level.

So what to do?

Luckily there are lots of reputable supplement companies now. You can access them by clicking on the icons below.

I get a small commission if you purchase your supplements through my dispensaries, but I will also spend time answering your questions and making personal recommendations. Plus, you get access to high quality professional grade supplements…. delivered right to your door. What could be better?

Purchase products through our Fullscript virtual dispensary.

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References

1. Yasko, A, Feel Good; Nutrigenomics, your roadmap to health. 2014 p99

2.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1695147/

3. http://www.uic.edu/pharmacy/services/di/faq/calcium_supplements.php

 

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