What to Look For in a Good Nutritional Supplement

by | Sep 17, 2012 | Health Habits, Nutrition Support, Uncategorized

Good Nutritional Supplement

img src: crnusa.org

At one time or another everyone seems to have been told “take your vitamins,” but which supplements are best?

There are a multitude of supplemental products on the market and not all of them are created equal.  Most people have a hard time getting all their nutrients from food alone: vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals.  Supplements should provide you with nutrients not consumed in food consumption, but never should they be taken in place of food.

There are 13 essential vitamin compounds: A, D, E, K, C, and eight (8) different B’s, as well as numerous minerals required on a daily basis.  Vitamins are macronutrients and easily obtained through supplements.  Minerals are micronutrients and low quantities are required.  A good multi-vitamin will supply some of what the body needs.

Vitamins help the body defend itself from disease; vitamins also improve bodily functions and give an overall sense of well-being.  Again, however, they are not all created equal.

Vitamins are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  When shopping for a vitamin supplement, look for the ones that are labeled “cGMP certified.”  It is an FDA certification indicating the company abides by good manufacturing practices.  Also, check to see if it is United States Pharmacopeia (USP) certified, which ensures the supplement is manufactured with integrity, purity, and potency.

Supplement Forms

There are three forms of vitamin supplements available:  liquid, tablets, and capsules.

Liquid form is best for young children and those who have difficulty swallowing pills.  It is the least desirable, for it can have a nasty taste, much like the taste of cough syrup.

Tablet form is the most common.  Tablets start off as a powder.  Binders, being either organic or inorganic cement, are added and compressed to form their shape.

Capsules are a loosely packed gelatin container holding the nutrients.  They are quickly dissolved and absorbed into the body, but less potent.  Because they are less potent, two capsules are required opposed to just one tablet.


Receiving our daily nutritional requirements is a difficult task.  A fresh plant food source offers 77%-93% of a single vitamin absorbency and 63%-78% absorption of a single mineral, opposed to on average what a supplement offers: 10% of a single vitamin absorption and 1%-5% of a single mineral absorption.  The reason for this major difference is the lack of a protein molecule in the supplement.  Because supplements lack the protein, the supplements must be taken with food.  When taken with food, enzymes in the digestive system aid in processing and allowing the body to absorb the nutrients.  When taken without food, the vitamins and minerals are filtered through the kidneys and voided from the body.

How To Choose A Good Supplement

  • Read the label; check if the supplement has the recommended dosages.  (Remember that only approximately 10% will be absorbed, so use that as a guideline.)
  • Look for the USP certification.
  • In regards to minerals – look for “chelate” or “chalated.”   These are proteins that are attached to the minerals prior to being added into the supplement.  They allow for increased absorption.
  • Look for added enzymes in the formula for better absorption of the vitamins.
  • Look for supplements that are natural or “food based.”  Food based supplements contain enzymes to boost absorption.  They are large tablets and the dose per day is usually double that of most tablets, but they are a great supplement.

Drug Interactions

Most people don’t give much thought to possible drug interactions when it comes to taking vitamins, and most of the time there is nothing to worry about; however, if you are taking medications, be sure to read the information sheet and ask you pharmacist when in doubt.  Here is just one example of drug interaction:  aspirin, vitamin E, and EPA/DHA fish oils are all blood thinners and combining them can be overload.

It is difficult to decipher all that has been written and/or spoken of in the media and it can be quite overwhelming.  A sure way to learn the facts about vitamins, minerals, and drug interactions is to become a pharmacy technician by enrolling in one of many available pharmacy technician schools.

What Every Good Nutritional Supplement Has

The best supplement to buy is one that discloses their ingredients, notes their filler, states whether it is sugar and gluten free, and is lactose free (important if allergic to milk or yeast).  It is important to read the label.

Remember, a supplement is not a replacement for real food.

They are intended to boost vitamin and mineral intake.  After taking supplements for only a few days you should be able to feel the difference in your health and energy.

Author’s Bio: Cathy Crilley West is a native Californian now residing in the great state of Oklahoma.  She went from the coastal area to the rolling hills of NE OK, the outskirts of the Ozarks.  She loves to travel, loves being a twin, and is a physical fitness enthusiast. Follow her on Twitter at:  


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