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How To Select Effective, Pure and Superior Supplements

One of the pitfalls of purchasing a guidebook to natural therapies is that too often the author neglects to give the reader specific direction about what to look for when shopping. Most of us who wander down the aisles of a health food store often feel as though we need the services of a health translator. Hundreds of strange sounding compounds fill countless shelves and even deciding on which vitamin C supplement or what kind of calcium is best can be difficult and frustrating. Through my practice and personal research, I have come to believe in the profound value of guaranteed potency, the importance of the proper delivery system and the notion that all compounds are not created equal. In other words, a vitamin or antioxidant compound that has been chemically synthesized in the laboratory may act very differently inside the human body than those extracted from natural sources.

In general, you want to look for vitamins and minerals extracted from natural sources, when possible and practical, herbs that have a guaranteed percentage of their active ingredients (they usually cost a bit more), and supplements that come from reputable companies. In addition, all minerals are not created equal as far as assimilation goes. In other words, a zinc lozenge can be more effective than a zinc tablet. Certain forms of calcium are better absorbed than others. Many over-the-counter forms of calcium come from inexpensive inorganic sources such as calcium oxide or carbonate which is often found in antacid products. These forms of calcium are not well absorbed, therefore, you may be faithfully taking what you think is an adequate calcium supplement and still become calcium deficient. Enteric coatings enable certain nutrients to bypass the stomach and dissolve in the intestinal tract, where they will be of much more value for diseases like irritable bowel disorder. Enteric garlic, for example, would be more effective as a treatment for colon disorders than regular garlic capsules. Some organic vitamins are also better assimilated than synthetic varieties. For example, organic vitamin E derived from soy is much more effective than its artificially synthesized counterpart. It's also important to know that much of vitamin B12 is lost through the digestion process; therefore, a sublingual form is preferable. Beta carotene converts to vitamin A; thus, taking beta carotene may be preferrable to vitamin A supplementation in that large doses of vitamin A can be toxic, especially for pregnant women. In general, look for the following:

  • Chelated minerals or plant-derived trace minerals with no aluminum additives.
  • Vitamins and minerals from organic sources where possible. Note: Many natural products contain a combination of naturally and synthetically derived nutrients. In the case of vitamin C, for example, ascorbic acid may be used rather than just rose hips due to the high cost of the natural source.
  • Free-form amino acids.
  • Calcium (gluconate, citrate, aspartate, lactate). Note: Carbonate is acceptable if combined with other sources. Citrate has a good track record for absorbability and assimilation.
  • Zinc and chromium picolinate or, GTF chromium; these forms are much more desirable.
  • Enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules for bowel applications.
  • B12 and B6 in sublingual tablets.
  • Vitamin E with selenium.
  • Calcium with magnesium.
  • Wild yam for progesterone in cream/topical forms.
  • Shark cartilage in powdered bulk form for practicality in treating tumors.
  • Proteolytic enzymes (can also be enteric coated to dissolve in bowel only).
  • Iron from natural sources such as ferrous gluconate or certain botanicals.
  • Acidophilus in liquid or capsule form that guarantees bacterial count and includes bifidobacteria (check expiration date).
  • Glucosamine sulfate with chondroitin sulfate (without chondroitin present, glucosamine's action is limited).
  • Protein from soy or other vegetable sources.
  • Guaranteed potency herbs.
  • Broad spectrum antioxidant blends using

Information provided in the Education section is provided by Woodland Publishing, Inc. and/or other independent third parties that are unaffiliated with Nutraceutical Corporation, and is intended to provide an electronic reference library about nutrition and health. The views expressed in the Education section are the views of the authors and have not been independently viewed or confirmed by Nutraceutical, and are not necessarily the views of Nutraceutical Corporation. © 1998-2003 Woodland Publishing, Inc. and/or the respective copyright owner. For more information call Woodland Publishing at 800 877-8702.

How, To, Select, Pure, and, Superior, Supplements,

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