When you are deciding which nutritional supplement to take, there are a few important criteria you need to consider before choosing a particular brand of supplement in order to get the quality you need.
The nutritional supplement industry is basically unregulated industry. The FDA considers nutritional supplements in the same category as food. This means there is no guarantee that what is on the label is actually in the tablet, capsule, powder or liquid. You need to select a company that manufactures their products as if they were an over-the-counter drugs. These companies follow what is known as pharmaceutical-grade Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). This means they purchase pharmaceutical grade raw products and then produce with the same quality control as that a pharmaceutical company does.
Complete and Balanced
Your nutritional supplements need to be complete and balanced. Meaning that they need to provide optimal (not Recommended Dietary Allowance – RDA) levels of several different antioxidants and their supporting cofactors. RDA levels were developed in the late 1930’s and 1940’s as the minimal requirement needed to avoid acute deficiency diseases like pellagra, scurvy or rickettes. This standard has nothing to do with chronic degenerative diseases, not to mentioned supporting high demands of the athletic body. You need optimum levels of nutrients which can be achieved only by adding additional supplementation of basic nutrients to your multi supplement (as multi mineral/vitamin supplements are based on RDA levels).
The formulation of there supplements as well has to be synergetic. Lets look at B vitamins supplementation as an example. B group has many ingredients: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B8, B9, B12, and choline. Each B vitamin has its own individual properties and unique role to play. As a group, these nutrients have so much in common that they are often thought of as a single entity. If your B complex is missing one of these ingredientsBe Like Them – the delicate balance and functions of these vital water-soluble vitamins will be compromised.
Same principle applies to the family of vitamin E (tocopherols, tocotrienols, and tocomonoenols) and vitamin A (different types of carotenoids, precursors to vitamin A). Vitamin C should be combined with citrus bioflavonoids; and minerals zinc and copper should be taken together.
Natural vs. Synthetic Vitamins & Minerals
Many medical and nutritional reports have maintained that there is little difference between natural and synthetic vitamins. This is known to be true for some essential nutrients. The ascorbic acid, foe example, found in widely available vitamin C tablets or capsules is identical to the ascorbic acid found in fruits and vegetables.
For some other nutrients, there is a significant difference between synthetic and natural forms. Vitamin E, as an example, is a crucial anti-oxidant. It consist of eight different biochemical forms, alpha-, beta-, delta- and gamma tocopherols, tocotrienols, and tocomonoenols and each of the forms of natural vitamin E is important and have a slightly different function in the body. For example, gamma-tocotrienol actually kills prostate cancer stem cells better than chemotherapy does.Synthetic vitamin E is widely available and inexpensive. It is “DL-alpha-tocopherol.” Yes, it has the same antioxidant properties in test tube experiments as does the natural “D-alpha-tocopherol” form. However, the DL- form has only 50% of the biological efficacy, because the body utilizes only the natural D isomer, which comprises half of the synthetic mix, not to mentioned that the body goes through an extra mile in order to process it.
So the natural form of vitamin E is at least twice as effective as the synthetic form and do not trigger same metabolic reactions in the body.
Another significant difference in activity occurs between vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol; the synthetic, made by irradiating fungus and plant matter) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol; the naturally occurring vitamin). According to the latest research, D3 is approximately 87 percent more potent in raising and maintaining vitamin D concentrations than D2. Regardless of which form you use, your body must convert it into a more active form, and vitamin D3 is converted 500 percent faster than vitamin D2. Vitamin D2 also has a shorter shelf life, and its metabolites bind poorly with proteins, further hampering its effectiveness.
There are more examples in the supplemental world most of us are not aware of. Here is the list of Common Synthetic Vitamins to Avoid:
(the “dl” form of any vitamin is synthetic)
- Vitamin A: Acetate and Palmitate
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): Thiamine Mononitrate / Hydrochloride / Chloride
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Riboflavin
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin): Niacin, Niacinamide
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid): Calcium D-Pantothenate
- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Pyridoxine Hydrochloride
- Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin): Cobalamin, Cyanocobalamin
- PABA (Para-aminobenzoic Acid): Aminobenzoic Acid
- Folate: Folic Acid, Pteroylglutamic Acid
- Choline: Choline Chloride, Choline Bitartrate
- Biotin: d-Biotin
- Vitamin D: D2, Irradiated Ergosteral, Calciferol
- Vitamin E: dl-alpha tocopherol, dl-alpha tocopherol, acetate or succinate
- Vitamin K: K3, K4, K5, Menadione
In order to pick a quality supplement, it is important to read the product’s entire label, including the section entitled, “other ingredients.” Much information on the quality of the product can be gather from that section. Poor-quality supplements often have questionable materials added to their products. These are often listed in “other ingredients.”
Ingredients found in this section will indicate if the product contains dyes, fillers, lubricants, binders, artificial sweeteners and flavorings, glucose / fructose / dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, Magnesium or Calcium Stearate, Stearic Acid, Genetically Modified Ingredients (GMOs), lactase, gluten, yeast, preservatives, and other unnecessary ingredients.
Special word about Magnesium Stearate
Magnesium Stearate, Vegetable Stearate, Calcium Stearate, Stearic Acid, Magnesium Silicate… Pharmaceutical and Supplemental industries use different names to list this lubricant on their labels.
Magnesium stearate is a white substance, solid at room temperature and used in the manufacture of pharmaceutical and supplement products. It is composed of magnesium and stearic acid, and oftentimes, palmitic acid as well.
The primary role of magnesium stearate in drugs and supplements is to act as a lubricant to prevent powders from sticking to the machinery. This ensures that production equipment can operate at maximum speeds and profit targets can be met. In other words, it is primarily used for financial reasons.
Magnesium stearate remains to be one of the most controversial ingredients in the supplement world. It is commonly noted in medical literature that magnesium stearate increases the time or, if digestive system is not working efficiently – makes it even impossible, for tablets and capsules to dissolve due to the film it forms on capsule or tablet ingredients. Magnesium stearate interferes with absorption of nutrients and pharmaceutical chemicals as it coats molecules in a powder and our digestive system is not really equipped to break stearate coating down.
In a study published in the journal Pharmaceutical Technology (April, 1985), the percent dissolution for capsules after 20 minutes in a solution went from 90% without stearates to 25% with stearates. In other words, stearates reduced the rate the capsule dissolved by 65%! This may result in the nutrients not dissolving in the appropriate section of the digestive tract, especially in people with compromised digestive system. (Source)
Another concern with magnesium stearate is that this form of magnesium (or calcium) has a tendency to suppressed T Cells – an important component of the immune system.
The key function of our body’s immune system is to attack pathogens. T cells, affected by steric acid, can not do the work to their full potential. The landmark study first describing this was published in the journal Immunology in 1990, which uncovered how T-dependent immune responses were inhibited in the presence of steric acid. (Source)
In the another Japanese study evaluating common excipients, vegetable magnesium stearate was as well discovered to be a formaldehyde-causing agent. (Source)
In 2011, the World Health Organization published a report outlining how several batches of magnesium stearate became contaminated with potentially harmful chemicals, including bisphenol A, calcium hydroxide, dibenzoylmethane, Irganox 1010 and zeolite (sodium aluminium silicate). (Source)
Please be cautious about this additive and look carefully at the labels.
Any claims have to be supported by the research
It is important to consider the fact that vast majority of supplement companies which target such specifics as ergogenic aids, body-building, and weight loss, illegally label their products and lack the recommended scientific evidence to back up their claims.
The following questions might help to decide if a supplement is worth trying:
1. Does it promise quick improvements in health or physical performance?
2. Does it contain a secret ingredient or formula?
3. Can you recognize the ingredients or easily learn about them?
4. Are the claims supported by substantial research indicating improvements in health and physical performance?
5. Who is advertising or selling the product? Celebrities? Star athletes? The person who invented the product?
6. Do the benefits sound too good to be true?
The bottom line is – the science of nutritional and sport supplementation is complex and still under ongoing research. The best way to enter this delicate and often necessary world is to consult your alternative health care professional.
Right nutritional supplements can help you take your game to the next level by ensuring that your body’s nutritional gaps are covered.
This website is intended to provide information and is not intended to replace medical advice.
For more information or consultation please contact:
Tatiana Armero t.647-500-0053 or email
© The Vigor Zone 2011