Perhaps you have purchased a daily vitamin to ensure that you are getting all the nutrients that you need for optimal health, or maybe you have a cupboard full of supplements to improve certain conditions, increase energy or reduce inflammation. Yet, how do you know if you’re getting the most bang for your buck from your supplements? There are many factors which determine a supplement’s quality and absorption and unfortunately, not all pills are made equal.
In general, here are the things that you should consider to both improve the selection and effectiveness of your vitamins:
- Amino acid chelate forms are best for absorption: Better multivitamins have their vitamins and minerals in highly absorbable forms, like amino acid chelates and citrates, rather than sulfates, carbonates or oxides, although these less absorbable forms are still good for many purposes. Amino acid-bound, chelated mineral supplements can provide three to 10 times better assimilation than the non-chelated forms. Check labels for the words “citrate” or “chelate” to ensure you are taking the most absorbable form. Examples include calcium citrate, which is better absorbed than a calcium, and iron citrate because it does not cause constipation.
- Capsule versus tablets: Capsules are usually the most absorbable compared to tablets because they are easily broken down in the stomach. If tablets are made by a reputable company, however, they are just as absorbable as capsules; and in some cases may be superior. Liquid vitamins or minerals are the easiest to absorb (especially for children or those who have difficulty swallowing pills), but be sure to avoid the extra sugars or fructose that they add to these mixtures to enhance the taste. Quick tip: vitamin D or B12 drops should be measured and placed under the tongue for effectiveness.
- Free of Fillers: For best results, look for multivitamins and all other supplement products that are free of binders, fillers, artificial colorings, preservatives, yeast, sugar, starch, hydrogenated oils or other additives. If you have many food allergies or sensitivities, you may want to be particularly vigilant about peaking at your vitamin labels. Lactose, corn starch, various sugars, soy and yeast can be used as fillers, and may cause digestive disturbances in sensitive individuals. In many cases, what you get is what you pay for so it’s worth it to spring for product manufactured by a reputable company or purchased through a practitioner’s office as these often go through a rigorous testing and purification process.