How do you choose a vitamin supplement?
When you go shopping for vitamins there's a staggering variety of brands to choose from, and unfortunately when it comes to quality, many fall short. Many brands source their vitamins from suppliers with poor standards of quality and purity, or include forms of vitamins that are either non-beneficial or potentially even harmful. Below are some of the key things to keep in mind when selecting vitamin supplements. Take a look and see how the supplements you have at home compare.
B Vitamins: Folate and B12 are the ones to watch
Of greatest importance is to ensure that folate and B12 are in the methylated form. "Methyl” refers to a chemical group that our bodies use for a multitude of important physiological processes, such as: DNA repair, the metabolism of homocysteine (a harmful metabolic byproduct that causes inflammation and damages blood vessels), detoxification and mood regulation. Un-methylated forms of folate and B12 can impair the methylation reactions in our body and increase the risk of many diseases.
Folate: look for L5-methyltetrahydrofolate. If it just says "folic acid" or "folate," it may not be in the most desirable form.
B12: look for methylcobalamin. Watch out for an un-methylated form of B12 called cyanocobalamin.
GMO: 90% of the vitamin C produced for supplements is made in China and derived from GMO crops – especially GMO corn, which is sprayed with herbicides such as glyphosphate (a Monsanto product that has been declared carcinogenic by the World Health Organization). Unfortunately, most brands don't indicate on their labels whether or not they use vitamin C derived from GMO crops, so you may have to contact the brand you're interested in to find out. Your Naturopathic Doctor can also help you to select a supplement that uses good quality vitamin C.
GMO: Most vitamin E in supplements is derived from soybean oil. Like the GMO corn from which vitamin C is derived, over 90% of the soy produced in the world is GMO and contaminated with herbicides like glyphosphate.Trace amounts of glyphosphate have been found in soybean oil, so it may be best to look for supplements that use organic, non-GMO sources vitamin E. These are usually derived from sunflower or other vegetable oils.
Types of Vitamin E: Vitamin E exists as “tocopherols” or “tocotrienols”. There are four versions of each: alpha, beta, delta, and gamma. Most research has focused on tocopherols, although we’re just starting to learn about the specific therapeutic applications of tocotrienols. Internally, tocopherols are better absorbed than tocotrienols. For general anti-oxidant benefit, alpha or gamma tocopherols are far more potent that beta and delta tocopherols. What is even better is a mixture of both alpha and gamma tocopherols, with a higher proportion of gamma (this is cardio-protective).
Synthetic vs. Natural Vitamin E: Synthetic vitamin E interferes with the activity of natural, bioavailable vitamin E, and increases the risk of prostate cancer (and perhaps other illnesses). Synthetic forms of vitamin E have "dl" in their name, e.g. "dl-alpha-tocopherol." Natural forms of vitamin E just have "d" in front of their names, e.g. "d-alpha-tocopherol." Watch out for that extra letter!
Vitamin D3 is the active form of vitamin D. Some supplements contain vitamin D2, which is synthetic and is an inactive form that is much less potent than vitamin D3.
Dr. Jocelyn can be your guide.
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Disclaimer: Information can be empowering, but we all have unique health profiles and needs. Health-related information contained in this post is intended to be general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for a visit with a Naturopathic Doctor. The advice is intended to offer only a general basis for individuals to discuss their medical condition with their health care provider. Always consult your licensed Naturopathic Doctor or health care provider.