bowl of supplements with sunflower in the back

3 tips to choosing quality nutritional supplements

Whether you are bothered by consistent head aches, always feeling tired, or completely healthy, supplements have the potential to drastically improve your life. Or, not do anything at all, if chosen incorrectly. With thousands of nutritional products, each claiming to work wonders for your body, here are some tips for choosing quality supplements.

1. Have reasonable expectations

Many people believe you don’t need supplements if you are not feeling any discomfort. However, even if you are young and healthy, it’s very hard to get all the nutrients you need from diet alone. There are almost 20 different vitamins and minerals that help your body functions properly. Supplements will help provide the nutrients that you’re not eating consistently.

At the same time, don’t expect supplements to be the magical healing pill. While in some cases, replenishing a deficient nutrient can make a huge difference, most often the effect is small and slow. Think of it as wearing sunscreen. You don’t see immediate results and the measure if mostly preventive, but committing consistently will give long term benefits.

2. Do your research

Research the company of the product and ensure it’s reputable. Information like how long the company has been operating, what products they sell, and what products they sold in the past are all good indicators.

The product label itself also gives tons of information. Check for proper product numbers and certifications. Also have a look at the ingredients list, does it really contain the nutrients promised in the marketing?

An article on HuffPost Living recommends checking if the ingredients are quality products by the way they are named [1] :

Poor quality, poor absorbability Choose instead
Calcium Carbonate MCHA, Calcium Citrate
Magnesium Oxide Magnesium Citrate, Magnesium (Bis)Glycinate
Zinc Oxide Zinc (Bis)Glycinate, Zinc Picolinate
Cyanocobalamin Methylcobalamin
Riboflavin HCl Riboflavin-5-Phosphate
Pyridoxine HCl Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate
Folic Acid Folate (L-5 MTHF)
Iron Sulphate Iron Citrate, Iron (Bis)Glycinate

3. Understand the science

Understand why you need a supplement and what it’s doing for your body. While you may not be a nutritionist, you understand your body the best and what it needs. So understanding the science behind supplements is the best way to choosing the most effective products.

Isotonic supplements became popular a few years ago and everyone jumped on board. But what’s the science behind isotonic products and why does it really work?

Taking you back to chemistry class, an isotonic solution is a solution with the same osmotic pressure as another solution. Meaning your solution has the same concentration of “things” dissolved in water as a “second liquid”. In the world of supplements, the “second liquid” is usually the human blood.

diagram of hypertonic versus hypertonic versus isotonic

Why is this important? Because when fluids flow across membranes (such as in your body), the difference in concentration determines the osmotic pressure which determines the direction fluid flows. In other words, concentration can determine how well or fast your supplements are absorbed by your body!

Of course, there are other factors that affect how well you absorb the nutrients you ingest. For example, vitamins can be either water soluble (water loving) or fat soluble (fat loving), and this affects how they are transported across membranes and stored in the body. We might cover this in another post.

One company that specialized in isotonic supplements is called Isotonix (surprise!). The entire product line of vitamins, minerals, and other health supplements are based on the idea of creating isotonic solutions to maximize absorption.

The flagship product is OPC-3. OPCs are oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes, naturally occurring plant metabolites widely available in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, flowers, and bark [2]. These complexes are known for their anti-oxidant activity but also demonstrates other effects which are said to be more powerful than Vitamin C or E. The Isotonix OPC-3 contains:

a combination of bilberry, grape seed, red wine, pine bark extracts and citrus extract bioflavonoids (and) isotonic-capable Pycnogenol, renowned for its extensive clinical research with more than 120 studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals.

bottle of Isotonix OPC-3

The Isotonix OPC-3 

This product also differs from other common supplements by coming in powdered form. The idea is to mix the powder with water according to guided amounts to create the isotonic solution. Powders also provide the added benefit of being easier for the stomach to break down. Sources suggests that pills can take 15 to 30 mins longer to break down in the stomach – which can be significant for some drugs and active ingredients.

Tip for using isotonic products: take product with empty stomach. You don’t want your carefully balanced solution to get diluted in the stomach!

 

Hope you enjoyed some of these tips for choosing and using nutritional supplements – and we can all work together on a journey for healthier living!

 

References

[1] “6 Tips For Choosing Quality Supplements”. The Huffington Post. N.p., 2017. Web. 22 Apr. 2017.

[2] Fine, Anne Marie. Oligomeric Proanthocyanidin Complexes: History, Structure, And Phytopharmaceutical Applications. 1st ed. Alternative Medicine Review, 2000. Web. 22 Apr. 2017.

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