I’m frequently asked about how to choose the right supplement, which brands to trust and how to know if you’re getting enough (or too much) of a good thing. It’s an important question, as not all supplements are created equal. Here are few guidelines to get you started:
1. Choose capsules over tablets. Capsules are easier to digest than tablets, and you will likely absorb more of whatever you are taking. Capsules are also often available in vegetarian friendly forms (vs. gelatin) making them suitable for vegans.
2. Divided doses = better absoprtion. Everyone loves the convenience of a one-a-day vitamin, but taking all of your vitamins at once limits the amount you will absorb. Therefore, choosing a multivitamin that you take 2-3x/day is probably the better choice.
3. Check the expiry date. Vitamins, like many medications have an expiry date. Expired vitamins are less potent, and therefore less active. And, be wary of vitamins on sale, as they are usually approaching their best before date.
4. Quality of ingredients. Not all ingredients are created equally! Take calcium, for instance. Calcium carbonate is a cheap, readily available form of calcium that many manufacturers use. But, it’s absorption is questionable, especially for people who take acid suppressing drugs such as Nexxium and Prevacid. A better choice is calcium citrate, which is far more absorbable and only marginally increases the cost.
5. Beware of “extras”. Have a look at the list of non-medicinal ingredients. Many tablets contain dyes and preservatives, unnecessary ingredients in my opinion.
6. Less is more. There are a myriad of designer products on the market, geared towards kids, athletes, men and women. Many of these products contain specific herbs and nutrients, such as black cohosh or saw palmetto, aimed at providing additional value. But, they are unlikely to contain enough of the specific ingredient to have an effect, and most herbs probably shouldn’t be taken every day as multivitamins are intended. So, I recommend taking a good, basic multi and using other products only as necessary.
Hope that helps you in your search for right supplement.