How to Assess the Nutritive Value of Health Supplements
With countless health supplement products in the market today, picking the best ones can be a daunting task. It’s not just a question of which supplements you need, but knowing how to spot a product that is safe as well as effective.
Types of Nutrients
To know what particular nutrient forms come with the product, you have to read its label carefully. There are nutrients that can be effective in any form. For example, any kind of Vitamin C – whether natural or synthetic – is acceptable. When it comes to beta-carotene and Vitamin E, however, it’s another story – both are superior when they come in natural form. Most mineral forms are acceptable as well, but they may differ in bioavailability, depending on your current health condition. And because people have individual differences in their capacity to absorb nutrients, it is best to take nutrient supplements containing a whole variety of sources.
Some products take pride in their great variety of really good ingredients. Yet upon checking their labels, you may find that the individual amounts of these ingredients are so small that they couldn’t possibly impact your health in any way, let alone a therapeutic way. For instance, an arthritis supplement may advertise itself as having many great ingredients, like 500 mg of glucosamine sulfate. If you know nothing about these things, you may just get impressed. However, according to clinical trials, you need about 1,500 mg of glucosamine sulfate for you to experience benefits. So even if you think you’re buying great product, you won’t really get anything from it. Don’t believe this kind of deceptive marketing.
Know the recommended dosages for the essential nutrients before buying any health supplements. Another thing you need to know is how to interpret the numbers linked to chelated minerals like magnesium succinate and calcium citrate). Note that the actual elemental amounts of chelated minerals are not always indicated by the doses listed for them. By “elemental,” we mean the actual mineral found in a product as opposed to the chelated mineral compound’s total weight. For instance, calcium carbonate is composed of 40 percent elemental calcium–in order to get 500 mg of elemental calcium, 1,250 mg of calcium is necessary.
If you see on the label “(blank) mg calcium (from calcium carbonate),” “(blank) mg calcium (as calcium carbonate)” or “(blank) mg elemental calcium,” that means you will get (blank) mg of elemental calcium. If you see only “(blank) mg calcium carbonate” though, you should assume that the actual calcium will only compose 40% of it.
Yes, every health supplement should have an expiration date. While calcium and other minerals can stay potent for many years, vitamins B and C and certain other nutrients have a substantially shorter shelf life.
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