How to Choose a Good Vitamin Supplement

I love talking about vitamins. They are so essential for us, our bodies would get sick without them, and yet so few people pay any mind to them. If you want to supplement because you don’t know if you are getting enough from your diet, or are showing a deficiency, I am going to give you this how-to guide for buying a vitamin/multivitamin.

#1: Look at the label. If it says dl-alpha tocopherol for vitamin E, put the bottle down. dl-alpha tocopherol is a cheaply manufactured form of vitamin E that has a low bioavailability (your body does not absorb it well). D-alpha tocopherol is the more bioavailable form, or get one that says mixed tocopherols. I can guess the quality of the vitamin by this alone. But before you pay too much heed to this, read below:

#2: Get a whole-foods supplement. A while back they did a study on beta-carotene and smokers. Those that had a higher concentration of beta carotene in their blood were at a lower risk of developing lung cancer and the group with a lower level of beta-carotene were at a higher risk for cancer. When they studied smokers that were supplemented beta carotene, those that took supplements were actually at a higher risk of developing lung cancer. How does that work?

First, synthetic vitamins are not exactly the same as the vitamins found in foods. Similar, but not exact. Imagine vitamins are like a key, and they unlock different functions for your body. You found a key that seems to fit in a lock, so you jam it in. What happens? The key gets stuck, now you can’t unlock the door. You can’t put the true key in the door either with the other key stuck inside the lock. Some synthetic vitamins (not all, they have to be evaluated on their own and what applies to some vitamins does not apply to others) can block absorption of the natural kind.

Vitamins found in food can also have many different forms, as opposed to just one form of vitamin E or one form of folate. They also come with co-factors. For example, vitamin C is better absorbed when eaten together with bioflavonoids such as Rutin. They both exist together in an orange. Rutin and other bioflavonoids are not present in most multi-vitamins, so you’re missing out unless you get a multivitamin that is extracted from the whole food (AKA: a whole foods supplement).

Studies of synthetic vitamins sometimes show harm too. This can be because it blocks absorption of the vitamin form that your body needs, or it can because it is missing other factors that help your body regulate the vitamin.

#3: Many vitamins are full of “fluff”. Your body does not need titanium dioxide. It does not need talc. What on earth are all those other ingredients??? (To be continued on my ingredients page)


I hope this guide helped, if you have any questions please leave a comment below.

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