How to Choose a Good Quality Vitamin Supplement

January 29, 2012

The drugs we take to help us with our fibromyalgia can actually cause some nutritional deficiencies, which bring on their own host of problems. You can’t NOT take your meds, so what to do?

You compensate for these deficiencies with good quality nutritional supplements.

Missy Baxter, Creating Healthy Families, LLC, is where I send my clients to get good quality supplements — with even better care.

Missy has family members with fibromyalgia and food allergies, so she understands some of what we go through every day. She has a degree in Chemistry so she understands the science as well. I’ve found her to be an extremely valuable resource on my journey to wellness.

Missy Baxter

How to Choose a Good Quality Vitamin Supplement

Guest post by: Missy Baxter,
Creating Healthy Families, LLC 

Figuring out how to choose a good quality vitamin and mineral supplement can be a confusing and time-consuming task. My goal is to provide you with some key factors to look for when choosing good, quality vitamins!

I am a mom of four with an extensive background in chemistry, so you can rest assured that I scrutinize everything I use in my own home.

Consideration #1: Absorption

Will the ingredients in the vitamin and mineral supplement I’m considering actually be absorbed by my body?

There are many steps that the ingredients in your vitamin and mineral supplement have to go through in order to make it all the way through your digestive tract, into your bloodstream, and ultimately to the location where your body can use them.

Look for something on the label about the bioavailability of the supplement. Bioavailability is the degree to which a nutrient is available for the body to use.

For bioavailability to occur, certain things have to happen once you put that supplement into your mouth. Here are two of those processes:

  1. Dissolution. This refers to how fast a supplement dissolves.
  2. Disintegration. This is similar to dissolution, except that disintegration refers to how fast the capsule or tablet breaks into smaller pieces so that the dissolution process can take place.

How can I tell if the supplement I’m considering does all this dissolution and disintegration stuff?

An example of the kind of things you should look for on the label would be something like “extensive tests for potency and bioavailability.”

The multivitamin my family takes actually starts to dissolve right away when placed in a glass of water, while others do not. You can test your multivitamin at home by dropping it in a glass of water and watching what happens.

What happens if I pick the wrong supplement?

If the vitamin supplement you are considering doesn’t meet the standards discussed above, it can pass right through your body and do you no good at all. I have actually seen autopsies where you could clearly see supplement tablets in the colon, still intact, looking like they had just come out of the bottle. These supplement tablets were poorly made, never disintegrated and would soon end up in the toilet.

Am I wasting my money?

With this in mind, let’s say you find a great deal on a supplement and you purchase it. What happens if it turns out that this supplement has been poorly manufactured and is only 10% bio-available?

10% bio-availability means is that your body will only be able to use $4 worth of a supplement you paid $40 for. What happened to the other $36 you paid? It went right through your body, and you literally flushed $36 right down the toilet. So much for your great deal!

When it comes to choosing a supplement, don’t be cheap. Do your homework and find a good quality supplement that your body can actually use. This way, you’ll be able to feel the benefits — and that’s a better deal!

Consideration #2: Safety and Efficacy

Are the health benefit claims being made by the supplement company provable? Is the supplement I’m considering safe?

The only way one can claim a particular health benefit on a product is to do actual clinical trials on that product. It is extremely expensive to do such clinical trials; only a company with a real commitment to quality and safety will perform such trials.

Be careful when you hear health benefit claims made by supplement companies. Remember, only scientific research and trials by the company really prove that the claims they’re making are true.

Is the supplement I’m considering natural?

It’s important to look for all natural supplements. Your body can’t use artificial supplements in the same way and they can have adverse side effects. Look for a company that uses all natural ingredients and labels that say something like, “No artificial flavors, sweeteners, colors or preservatives added.”

Testing for safety

There are strict requirements that pharmaceutical companies (companies that make drugs) must meet by law when producing their drugs. Here are some of these testing requirements:

  • Master Batch Records — The template that describes the step-by-step procedures to be followed during manufacturing, with spaces to record actual data. The master batch record is uniquely identified, under change control, pre-approved by quality assurance, and used to generate each individual batch record that is issued when a given batch is to be manufactured.
  • Validation Documentation — Documentation that confirms that a specific process will consistently produce a product that does what it says it will do and performs as expected.
  • Shelf-Life Stability Testing — Checks to be sure that the product has a stable shelf-life for at least as long as what is listed on the supplement bottle.
  • Raw Material Physical & Analytical Testing — This ensures that the raw materials are pure, safe, and have the expected properties. For example, testing to be sure the raw ingredients are actually gluten free, rather than assuming that they are because there is no wheat, barley or rye.
  • Finished Goods Physical & Analytical Testing — This testing checks to be sure that the finished supplement contains exactly what the bottle says it should contain. For example, if you take a magnesium supplement that is listed to contain 200 mg of magnesium, this test checks to be sure that the finished product does indeed have  200 mg of magnesium in it. It also checks for purity and safety just as the raw material testing.
  • Retention Sampling & Lot Traceability — A retention sample is stored for a certain length of time in case re-evaluation of the product is needed. Lot Traceability allows a manufacturer to recall specific lots, or batches, of a particular product.

Companies that make vitamin and mineral supplements are only required by law to do two of these tests — Master Batch Records and Retention Sampling & Lot Traceability — the other four tests are optional. (Yes, testing to make sure the product actually has the amount of the nutrient listed is one of the things they don’t actually have to do!)

That means another thing to look for when choosing a vitamin and mineral supplement is a company that does all six of these tests, not just the required two. This will ensure you are getting a better quality product that will perform as expected.

I would love to answer any questions or share the products my family uses with you.

People I Love

Missy is one of the people I have listed on my People I Love to Work With page, and she really is awesome to work with! I pick the people I recommend to my clients very carefully. I know you’ll love her as much as I do! You can shop on Missy’s website here.

You can read more about what nutritional companies are and aren’t required to do in this article by the National Institute of Health.

Here are a few Shaklee products that I recommend to all of my clients. I also take these myself. These are all gluten free:

  • NutriFeron — Boosts your body’s own production of interferon, an activator of your immune system. Interferon has been proven in studies to help symptoms of both fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. As of this post, since I started taking NutriFeron in November 2010, I’ve only been sick one week! I used to get sick often and be sick for a month or more at a time. No more!
  • B-Complex — A great B-Complex that doesn’t stink, literally! If you’ve ever taken a B-Complex, you know that they smell terrible. I’ve had many clients not want to take B Vitamins because they can’t stomach the smell. Shaklee’s B-Complex has almost no smell. Not only that, after just a month of switching to this B-Complex from another well-known brand, I discovered that the amount of hair at the bottom of my shower was reduced by half! Obviously what I was taking before wasn’t doing me as much good as this one is!
  • VitalMag — Magnesium is something that most folks with fibromyalgia need to supplement with. It helps with normal muscle function; too little magnesium means that your muscles will remain in a contracted state. Ouch! Supplementing with magnesium will help your muscles relax. In addition, magnesium helps your body convert 5-HTP to serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating pain and mood, and helping food move through your intestines. (IBS, anyone?)
  • Vita-D3  — Vitamin D is a nutrient that your body cannot manufacture on its own without sunlight. Here in Oregon, where I live, we never get enough sun! In addition, a 2007 study in Belfast showed that 70% of fibromyalgia patients had “insufficient or deficient levels” of vitamin D. These 70% also had higher anxiety and depression scores.
  • Multi-Vitamins — If you’re looking for a good multi-vitamin, check out Shaklee’s Vita-Lea or Vitalizer packs. They even have Liqui-Lea if you’d like a liquid multivitamin!

 

Elaine Thompson January 15, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Did you say if these products are gluten-free? Thanks!

Tami January 15, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Hi Elaine! Yes, the things I use and recommend are gluten-free. There are some of the Shaklee items that aren’t, so be sure to tell Missy if you need gluten-free items and she can help you pick them out.

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