Have you ever gone to the pharmacy and found yourself staring at the great wall of supplements wondering which to choose? Do your eyes get drawn to the ones Michelle Bridges or Jennifer Hawkins tells you she takes or maybe those that have the big ‘special’ sign on them? Do you find yourself thinking, ‘any mutli will do because, all brands the same, aren’t they?’
Unfortunately quality differs greatly between brands. The forms of the nutrients and herbs, how they are manufactured and the hidden ingredients in the supplement all influence how effective the supplement will be for you.
Did you know the form of a nutrient determines how well you will absorb it and therefore how beneficial it will be for you? For example magnesium comes in many forms two of which are magnesium oxide and magnesium amino acid chelate. Magnesium oxide is considered a bowel irritant, (which is why it is found in that awful colonoscopy bowel preparation), while magnesium amino acid chelate is gentler and absorbed better.
This is also true of medicinal herbs. The quality of the soil they are grown and how they are harvested will affect their medicinal and nutritional properties. Just with forms of a nutrient, not all plants are the same. Did you know there are 9 Echinacea plants, however only two are considered medicinal? Or that Dandelion root is used for the liver while the leaf is used for the kidneys?
As with anything, how it is manufactured determines how long it will last on the ‘shelf’. Oils such as fish oils, probiotics and fat soluble vitamins (A, D & E) oxidise or go off easily. As a result, a more delicate manufacturing process is required for these supplements to ensure their shelf life stability.
If this wasn’t enough to make you question your current multi, supplements may have binders, fillers, additives, flavours and colours that can be damaging to your health long term. This is why you may have taken a supplement in the past and felt it ‘did nothing’ for you, or worse, made you feel more unwell.
So which do you choose? Unfortunately there is no hard and fast rule for which supplement is the best for everyone. Typically, the practitioner range supplements are far superior to retail brands. Supplements in powder or liquid form are absorbed better than tablets or capsules. However before you start throwing your money away on supplements you may not need, get your health assessed by your primary health care professional. They will look at your current medication (should you be on any) and tell you what is safe to take with that medication. They will also inform you of the form and amount of a nutrient you require, how long you should take it for and also which herbs compliment your current medication and health goals. For a list of health care professionals in your area who are knowledgeable on herbal medicine visit www.nhaa.org.au.
Have any questions about nutrition or health? Ask me by emailing [email protected]
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