People often ask me to evaluate the supplements that they are taking. It’s a chance to empty out the cupboard and frig and lay it all out on the table, and see what is really useful and also what needs to be changed or discarded. Most people laugh with embarrassment as they bring out the boxes and bottles: “I don’t remember why I even bought these!” or “I got these from Wal-Mart or QVC, but I don’t know if the quality is OK”, or “My chiropractor said I needed this, but I haven’t used them – are they still good? ”
A supplement support plan needs to be individualized, but there are some general guidelines that many people find helpful. Today, I’ll focus on what to look for in a good multi-vitamin. By good, I make sure that it doesn’t have artificial colors, flavors or unnecessary fillers (especially unfermented soy, mineral oil, or talc). Then, I look to see if the minerals are in a chelated form (such as calcium citrate instead of carbonate, or zinc picolinate not zinc oxide). Chelated minerals have much greater absorption than the conventional (cheaper) forms.
Because a person’s need for B vitamins varies depending on their diet and stress levels, I check that the multi contains all eleven at adequate amounts. My friends can always tell if I’m too low in my B vitamins because I become irritable and grumpy! Sometimes companies skimp on Biotin which is expensive – it should be a full 100% of the daily amount.
We’ve all become aware of the increasing importance of vitamin D. I believe the level should be at least 800IU and unless someone is vegan I recommend getting vitamin D in the D3 (calicalciferol) form which is the type our bodies actually make. You may also be getting vitamin D in a calcium/magnesium combo or even a fish oil supplement – so be sure to add them all up.
Sometimes companies “cheat” by using synthetic vitamin E. Look to see if it’s labeled D-tocopherol or DL-tocopherol. The “L” chemically designates synthetic, and is only 50% absorbed.
Lastly, I look for support foods, enzymes, and herbs in the base which can offer additional nutrients and benefits beyond just vitamins – especially good for antioxidant protection which is so important.
Do you have questions about your supplements? Want to set up a plan for yourself? It’s always a good time to clean out the cupboards!
-Susan Dunlap, CHC
Nutrition Information Specialist, Rebecca’s Natural Food