Confused About Vitamin Mineral Supplements?

Confused about vitamin mineral supplementsThere’s been a great increase in the number of people seeking information about nutritional supplements.  That’s no surprise because recent research has shown that the right dietary supplements can support optimal health and quality of life as well as contribute to looking younger and feeling more energetic.

Getting good nutrition from our modern diet is difficult.  Modern agricultural practices such as new crop breeding practices, green harvesting and genetic modifications have significantly decreased the amount of important nutrients in fruits and vegetables.  So even people who think they are eating healthy are actually not getting the daily nutrition they need.  To make matters worse, did you know that less than 18% of the population is even eating the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables?

Nutritional supplements have been highlighted as a solution to these problems.  In a June 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association an article stated “Most people do not consume an optimal amount of all vitamins by diet alone… it appears prudent for all adults to take vitamin supplements.”

But which vitamin mineral supplement should you take?  Some choose their  dietary supplements by price alone.  Others make their choices based on how often they see the product advertised on television. or in magazines.  Generally, these are not reliable ways to determine the true value of a dietary supplement.

     Perhaps the best way to evaluate nutrional supplements is to examine the product label.  But the statements on many product labels make pseudoscientific and unjustified  claims about the value of the product, so it is useful to have some knowledge about the words used.

SYNTHETICS

The majority of vitamin and mineral supplements are made using synthetic vitamins and minerals.  Although this has the advantage of being less expensive, science suggests that vitamins and minerals in natural or plant-sourced forms may be more efficiently absorbed and used by the body. 

Any vitamin listed on the label and ending in the following is synthetic:  acetate, hydrochloride, mononitrate, palmitate or succinate.  The list of synthetic vitamins may include several others, for instance, Vitamin C when it’s listed on the label as “ascorbic acid”.  This also includes specific vitamins ending in Beta carotene (if source not given), Riboflavin, Niacin, Calcium D-pantothenate, Pteroylglutamic Acid, Menadione, Phytonadione, Calciferol, Di-alpha tocopherol, and mixed tocopherols (unless plant-sourced).

FORMS OF MINERAL SUPPLEMENTS

 Because most people today don’t consume enough minerals in their diet, supplements present a logical solution.

 Good Forms

 Plant “Predigested” Minerals (Food)

 Minerals that have been predigested by plants may be more readily soluable, facilitating their absorption in the intestines.  Plants bond them with other nutrients such as acids, fats, sugars and phytochemicals to form a food matrix.   Taking plant-sourced mineral supplements is preferred.

 Not So Good Forms

 Mineral Salts are inorganic and are not plant-sourced.  They have poor solubility and may pass through the digestive tract without being absorbed.

 Colloidal Minerals are inorganic and are said to come from plants buried in the ground for millions of years.  There is no proof that they remain in a food matrix.

 Chelated Minerals are made by attaching an inorganic mineral atom by a chemical bond to another molecule known as a “chelator.”  The weakness of the chemical bonds in organic acid chelates can be broken apart before the mineral is transported through the intestinal wall.  In amino acid chelates the type of process used to create the bond has a major impact on the strength of the bond and the bioavailability of the product.

 Ionic Minerals carry an electrical charge.  However, neither a positive nor a negative charge guarantees passage through the intestinal wall or into the cell.  Also, they are subject to absorption interference by other minerals.

 How can you identify commonly used mineral salts or mineral/organic acid mixtures in a supplement?  The mineral name will usually end in one of the following:  ascorbate, aspartate, carbonate, chloride, citrate, disulfide, gluconate, glycerophosphate, hydroxyapatite, iodide, lactate, malate, methionine, orotate, oxide, picolinate, pyrophosphate, so;ocpm dopxode. dibasic phosphate, tribasic phosphate, stearate, or sulfate.

NANOTECHNOLOGY

No doubt nanotechnology can enhance the uptake of nutrients.  However, that can be both good and bad.  There is no FDA oversight, and the efficacy and safety evaluation is left up to the manufacturer.  Therefore, there is no way of knowing whether “nano” supplements are safe or do what they claim to do.  There are potential risks of toxicity, i.e. nano-silver.

“SUPER JUICES”

They claim to be full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, but laboratory analysis has shown that several of the most popular super juices are seriously deficient in essential vitamin and mineral content.*

VITAMIN MINERAL “BLENDS”

Often used to give the impression of a more natural product, these products may use large amounts of synthetic vitamin C and blend it with a trace amount of naturally sourced vitamin C or may blend a large amount of mineral salt such as calcium carbonate with a trace amount of chelated calcium.  Check the amount of each.  This is required by law to be on the label in decreasing order by weight.

Some products blend vitamins and minerals into fruit and vegetable extracts, once again to give the impression of a more food-based product.  But blending synthetic or inorganic minerals into food extract powders does not change their basic characteristics.  They’re still non-food-sourced.

LABEL TERMINOLOGY

% Daily Value – Tells what percentage of the recommended daily intake for each nutrient for adults and children ages 4 and up is provided by the supplement.

IU – International Unit.  A standard unit of measure for fat-soluble vitamins (A,D & E)

Milligram (mg) and Microgram (mcg):  Units of measurement for water-soluble vitamins (C and B complex) and minerals.  A milligram is equal to .001 grams.  A microgram is equal to .001 milligrams.

An asterisk *:  Under the % Daily Value heading indicates that a Daily Value is not established for that nutrient.

Ingredients:  The list of ingredients includes nutrients and other substances used to formulate the supplement, in decreasing order by weight.

SUMMARY

To download a comparison chart of how several popular vitamin mineral supplements stack up against the criteria we’ve discussed  click here.

There are 1000s of vitamin mineral supplements to choose from.  If you are one of the 1000s of people who have recognized the value of nutritional supplements, take the next step.  Make sure that you are truly getting the value you are paying for by examining the information on the product label.

*Analytical test data; Independent Testing of MonaVie, Tahitian Noni Juice, Xango Juice, Zrii Drink; Covenance Labs 2009

Reference:  How to Evaluate Vitamin and Mineral Products, What Healthcare Professionals Want to Know;  by Dr. Dan Fouts, Proevity Continuing Education Group; copyright 2009 Proevity LLC

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