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The Quality of Your Supplements: Worth it or Wasteful?

By Expert HERWriter
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Research reports, over 60% of Americans are on some sort of supplement, whether it be a multi-vitamin, vitamin C, calcium, or herbs specific for a condition. How do you know that the multi-vitamin you buy from a discount grocer is of the same quality you would find at a doctor’s office or online?

I hear all the time about ‘super-size’ vitamins where my patients find and buy 1000 capsules of fish oil for $5.99 or 500 tablets of calcium for $7.50. While I agree you can’t beat the bang for your buck, I do question the absorption ability and quality of what you are swallowing. Imagine taking in all of those pills everyday only to have them flushed out in your urine with only a trace actually used by your body.

The FDA does not monitor the contents or purity of nutritional supplements unless the company makes outrageous claims such as ‘cures cancer,’ so what should you look for?

1)Does the tablet even dissolve? Put your vitamin tablet in a little lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Does it dissolve in 30 minutes? If not, then it is sitting in your stomach too.

2)Is the company using the cheapest, least absorbant form? Calcium Carbonate, Magnesium Oxide, the dl-alpha-tocopherol form of Vitamin E, ergocalciferol form of Vitamin D (D2) are not what you want to read on the label. Also, how much of the pill is useless filler you don't need?

3)Does the company test for impurities? Fish and flax oil, in particular, may contain pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals and are prone to rancidity. Who wants to swallow a capsule of rancid oil everyday?

4)Look the company up online. Where does it buy the raw ingredients from? And then does the company test all of their raw ingredients to make sure what comes in the bottle is exactly what it says on the label? Or is the company taking the word of the raw ingredient manufacturer. I hear all the time of companies sending the wrong thing, labeling the wrong ingredient, or accidentally mixing a few things up. How do you know you’re getting calcium in a capsule and not vitamin C?

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EmpowHER Guest

wow thats really useful info. i never thought of any of that. thanks

August 4, 2009 - 2:01pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.