Supplements: Do You Take Them? If So, What Kind? Some Are Better Than Others!


No matter where you look you are probably bombarded by media and product pushers to take a variety of supplements. Some of these are “snake oil” sales people looking to con you into spending your precious money for dubious results. Others are well meaning people who believe a particular supplement is a “miracle cure” for problem X, Y, or Z. And, there are other sources of supplement pushers.

TIME magazine had an interesting cover story article showing a sick bed and a title that said “How not to end up here”. Their article stated that “It’s all about prevention … and here’s what it takes.” A couple of key points that they made were:

  1. There are trillions of reasons why you should supplement. Your body contains trillions of cells. Billions of new cells are created every day. Each cell is like a high performance engine. It needs high quality raw materials (nutrients) to function properly. The quantity and quality of nutrients you ingest affects every system of your body. … In other words, how you look, feel, and performs is directly affected by your daily nutrient intake.
  2. Your body can’t manufacture all the nutrients it needs on its own. Scientists define a vitamin as a compound essential for life. And since your body cannot manufacture most these vitamins on its own, they can come only from the food you eat and the supplements you take every day.
  3. Proper nutrition and healthy lifestyle can prevent many major diseases 60-90% of the time. Studies show that if you don’t eat right, get to a healthy weight, exercise regularly, and supplement your diet with proper nutrients, you increase your risk of developing certain diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
  4. Eating right isn’t as easy as it seems. 98% of Americans do not eat the recommended seven to nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day. … Also, the nutritional value of our produce isn’t what it used to be. A study of 43 crops showed a decline in the nutrient content of up to 38% over the past 50 years.
  5. The proven benefits of nutritional supplementation. Landmark studies continually correlate long term supplement use with better overall health. Doctors from Harvard, Stanford, and Yale, and researchers from the American Heart Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Cancer Society can’t all be wrong. If you want to improve your health, be sure to get some of the most important nutrients your body and your brain need to function optimally: a multivitamin, vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and probiotics.

Personally, I believe in supplements and have been using my selective research to learn about various supplements to slow the aging process, eliminate various aches and pains, and facilitate brain cell growth. Thus, over the years, using my hit and miss methodology, I have gone through many a bottle of supplements. What I have done a poor job of has been to rate the various suppliers of the supplements. One example area would be in the area of a multivitamin. All brands, even those having the same ingredients, are not created equal! For example, an independent rating agency evaluated the absorption rate and impact of various brands. I found out that the very well known brand I was using was fiftieth out of one hundred companies. Therefore, I have quit taking this brand of multivitamin and switched to the number two rated brand.

WebMD had a very interesting article on “How to evaluate Vitamins and Supplements”. Their questions:

  1. What health benefit does this supplement offer me?
  2. Is there any research supporting the use of this supplement?
  3. Do I need this supplement for my health, either to treat a medical condition or help prevent disease?
  4. What is the recommended dose for this supplement?
  5. When and for how long do I need to take this supplement?
  6. Which is the most appropriate and effective for me – a pill, powder, or liquid?
  7. Which form of the vitamin (vitamin D2 or D3, for instance) is the best?
  8. Does this supplement or vitamin have any side effects?
  9. What are the best brands of this supplement in terms of quality, safety, and researched effectiveness?
  10. Does this supplement interact with any medications or foods?
  11. Will I have to stop taking this supplement or vitamin if I have to undergo surgery?

I am very impressed with these questions and have gone through each one of them to make my decision. Not all supplement brands are equal! The quality of supplements varies greatly as well as the absorption rate. Where the supplement comes from and what kind of consistent testing it goes through is important. It is amazing the difference. One example is fish oil. You would be surprised at the difference in quality that exists in this supplement based on the oil origin.

As part of my research I found an independent non proprietary site on the internet that did an evaluation of over one hundred brand products. It’s name is Multivitamin guide. In their six years of research they evaluated the brands on four factors:

  1. Composition: Your body needs 13 types of vitamins and many other types of minerals in order to function properly. This criterion has to do with how closely the dosage of vitamins and minerals in each product follow the Optimal Daily Intake Index. Optimal composition means you receive the nutrients in the most effective combinations and dosage amounts.
  2. Bioavailability: Bioavailable nutrients are easily and efficiently absorbed by the body. Does the product contain vitamins and minerals in their most absorbable forms, such as organic acid complexes, mixed carotenoids, or amino acid chelates.
  3. Synergistic effect: Vitamins and minerals work together to improve your health, but they must be in proper proportion to each other for the best results. … Are the vitamin and mineral nutrient qualities in the product set in such a way as to intensify their combined effect and absorption by the body?
  4. Potency: Does the potency of the ingredients found in the product meet or exceed the potency levels outlined in the Optimal Daily Intake Index? Store brand supplements often contain low-quality forms of nutrients, which are not as potent as higher-quality nutrients.

From these four criteria we calculate an Effectiveness Score. A score near 10 represents a supplement with the characteristics for optimal nutrition. Conversely, a score near 0 represents a product possessing few, if any, of the characteristics for optimal nutrition.

Personally, I have found this objective research meaningful and, thus, I have made a decision. Instead of taking my hodge podge variety of supplements I have decided on one highly researched product from a particular company, which was second of the hundred plus companies evaluated, with a 9.4 score. I have added two others for different purposes. This choice was made quite easy when I read a landmark study done by the University of California, Berleley, School of Public Health. The researchers gathered a group on supplementers of my chosen brand with a group of non supplementers over a period  of twenty years. The differences they found were startling. The supplement users had 33% lower triglycerides, 36% lower homocysteine, 59% lower C-reactive protein levels, along with 11% lower cholesterol to HDL ratio when compared to non supplement users. Supplement users also had a 39% lower risk of high blood pressure, 73% lower risk of diabetes, and multiple measures of cardiovascular risk were directionally better with supplementation.

My wife, Sherry, has joined me in this switch to a particular regimen, for women, offered by our product choice. So far, we are very impressed with the impact this choice has made on our overall health and energy. I encourage you to do the same research or contact me for the results that I have gleaned.

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates


Comments are closed.