Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients needed by our bodies to perform many vital functions; they are crucial to maintain optimal health and wellness and a deficiency in just one can have an effect on many of our body systems.
Although it is possible for an individual to get all of the nutrients they need from food, the reality is that the typical Western diet is not even coming close to meeting these needs.
In an effort to ensure nutritional needs are being met, many people are choosing to add supplementation into their daily routine, a decision that can prove beneficial but only when we ensure that we are getting the most out of our supplements.
It is not enough to simply take a supplement daily, correct the following 3 common vitamin mistakes and get the most of your supplementation.
BUYING CHEAP VITAMINS
Just as with anything else you purchase, you get what you pay for. Cheaper vitamins will have more binders, fillers, colours and additives that are not beneficial to our health and wellness.
Cheaper vitamins tend to be formulated from synthetic sources; synthetic means artificial and anything artificial is foreign to the body and will not be absorbed and utilized as well as a good quality naturally sourced vitamins.
Only buy supplements from natural sources or “produced by nature”; nutrients coming from food sources will be absorbed, utilized and retained better and will have none of the additives found in cheaper synthetic formulas.
When selecting your supplements be sure to read the label carefully and seek assistance if you are unsure. Just because a bottle is labelled “natural” does not necessarily mean that the vitamin was extracted from a natural food source.
NOT PURCHASING THE MOST ABSORBABLE FORM OF A VITAMIN
Just as important as purchasing a good quality, naturally sourced vitamin is ensuring that we are purchasing the most absorbable form of that vitamin. Follow these key strategies when selecting your supplements and your absorption rates will increase.
Choose a supplement form that is easily digested and absorbed
Supplements are available in a variety of forms including tablet, capsule, powder and as a liquid. Most people will choose a form based on personal preference or convenience however there are slight variations in the absorbability of each.
Tablets will tend to have more fillers, binders and coatings and are more difficult to digest and absorb then a capsule.
Powders are typically mixed with water or juice and are absorbed more rapidly then a tablet or capsule.
Liquids are most often used for infants and children and have the same advantages as powder does for an adult.
So when it comes to absorbability we may have to compromise on convenience and taste a little and opt for a powder form when possible; it is always best to read the labels carefully in order to make the most well-informed and best decision for you.
Choose a supplement that contains the vitamin and mineral forms that are best absorbed and utilized by the body, for example:
- Vitamin B12 is best absorbed as Methylcobalamin, vs. Cyanocobalamin
- Vitamin D is available in two forms Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) and Ergocalciferol (vitamin D2), regardless of the form our body must convert it into a more active form; Vitamin D3 is converted much faster then Vitamin D2 and is much more potent
- Vitamin E is best absorbed as d-alpha-tocopherol (natural) vs. dl-alpha-tocopherol (synthetic)
- Calcium is best absorbed as Citrate vs. carbonate
- Iron is best absorbed as ferrous fumarate, ferrous gluconate or ferrous bisglycinate
- Magnesium is best absorbed as Aspartate vs. Oxide
It is always best to read the labels carefully and seek the assistance of a health care professional in order to make the most well-informed and best decision for you.
FOLLOWING RDA (US) AND RNI (Canada) DOSAGE GUIDELINES
Various committees like The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Science have developed recommended daily allowance (RDA) and recommended nutrient intake (RNI) guidelines to help us meet our nutritional needs to prevent deficiency and disease.
There is a problem, however, when we strictly adhere to these guidelines because they were not developed with our unique individual needs in mind.
Each of us requires a different amount of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients for our optimal health and wellness; one healthy individuals nutrition plan may not result in the same outcome for another person.
Factors such as medications, vitamin interactions, geographic location and soil depletion, age, stress level, lifestyle and genetics all play a key role in our nutritional needs.
It is essential that we determine our individual nutritional needs for our optimal wellness, strictly adhering to the RDA or RNI guidelines may very well help us to prevent deficiency and disease but it will not foster our optimal wellness; something that should be a primary goal.
A deficiency in just one vitamin or mineral can have an effect on many body systems, to foster our overall health and wellness it’s important that we identify and correct any deficiencies.
It is not enough to simply take a supplement daily; correcting the 3 common vitamin mistakes will help to ensure that we are getting the most from our supplementation.
N.D., M. T. (1996). Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements. New York, New York, USA: Three Rivers Press
Smith, P. W. What You Must Know About Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & More: Choosing The Nutrients That Are Best For You. (A. Colleti, Ed.) New York, NY, USA: Square One Publisher
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