Last month we discussed spring cleaning your refrigerator and pantry. This month, let’s talk about doing the same to your supplement regimen. To begin, pull out all of your supplements and begin to ask yourself some questions: Do you remember why you started taking taking those herbs? Will that vitamin interact with any of your medications? At what dosing are you supposed to be taking that nutrient? When was the expiration date on that tincture?
Unless you’re a physician or pharmacist, answering these questions can often prove to be rather difficult. Since we have your entire supplement regimen out, let’s see if we can at least assist you in making sure you are taking the healthiest multivitamin for you. After assessing the expiration date on the bottle, simply follow the 5 tips below to determine whether or not you should throw it away:
- No One-A-Days: As convenient as they are, one-a-day vitamins are not ideal as they are not taken multiple times per day. After we absorb the nutrients in our multivitamin, we urinate out the water-soluble vitamins (e.g. vitamin C and the B vitamins) over and above what our body needs within the next 4-6 hours. To help maintain healthy, consistent levels of nutrients within your bloodstream, you want to make sure to buy a multivitamin that recommends two or more dosings per day.
- Buy capsules, not tablets: Unless you are purchasing your tablet multivitamin from a reputable nutraceutical company (e.g. Metagenics, Standard Process, etc.), it is best to buy your multivitamin in capsule form. Why? In order to keep the tablet together, many pharmaceutical companies (e.g. Pfizer, the maker of Centrum) add binders, such as pregelatinized corn starch, to hold the supplement together and fillers, such as talc, which has been linked to cancer¹ ², to bulk up the material to allow proper sizing of the tablet. And when the tableting machines are compressing the tablet to the proper size, heat is generated, which adversely affects the nutrients. Capsules do not require binders or fillers and they escape the pressure and heat for the tableting machines.
- Avoid the phrase “Amino Acid Chelate”: In order to absorb minerals placed into your multivitamin, they need to be attached to another substrate that the body will more likely absorb. Certain substrates are better than others (e.g. magnesium glycinate is more well absorbed by the body than magnesium oxide). If a supplement company cannot tell you exactly what its’ minerals are attached to, it’s not worth investing your money or health into it.
- Vitamin B12 – Say “No” to Cyanide: The natural, active forms of Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) have the prefaces Adenosyl- and Methyl-, which the body uses readily. The synthetic forms of this nutrient are denoted with the prefaces Hydroxy- and Cyano-. These man-made versions are easily converted into methylcobalamin by cells, but when the body breaks apart the cyanocobalamin molecule to start this conversion process, your liver is asked to detox a cyanide molecule. The quantity of cyanide that is released is small, meaning that it won’t cause toxicity, but when you’re trying to do something good for yourself, like taking a multivitamin, it would be even more beneficial if you weren’t inadvertently putting more stress on your liver.
- Vitamin E – “L” is for Lousy: There are 8 forms of vitamin E: alpha-, beta-, delta- and gamma-tocopherol (Greek for “to bear offspring”) and tocotrienols. The natural, active, forms of vitamin E are denoted by the letter “D” at the beginning of its name while “DL” is used to denote the synthetic form (i.e. d-alpha tocopherol vs. dl-alpha tocopherol). The synthetic forms of vitamin E have been shown to have less than 50% of the biological activity observed in the natural, active form³.
Why shop for supplements at AIM’s Lifestyle Store? One evening, every three to four months, our physicians close AIM’s doors for a review of the nutraceuticals, pharmaceutical-grade supplements, carried by AIM’s Lifestyle Store. These sessions help maintain the integrity of the products we carry as our physicians will not recommend supplements unless they are third-party certified and are clinically effective, palatable, and reasonable priced.
If you are questioning the ingredients in your multivitamin or other supplements, stop by our Lifestyle Store today and check out what our physicians have found to be worth your time, money and health. But maybe your supplements are good and would pass our physicians’ high standards? Why not ask? Simply bring your supplements to your next office visit or schedule an appointment to review them with your AIM physician today!