Not All Supplements are Created Equal
Not all supplements are created equal. Trying to understand what nutritional supplements could benefit you, and then trying to pick out the best ones can be overwhelming to say the least. We are a team of holistic health practitioners at Holistic Room and even we sometimes get confused!
How supplements are produced is always evolving. We used to only have access to synthetically developed vitamins and minerals, and there is much controversy over their safety. In addition, some supplements that claim to have “natural” ingredients also contain some synthetic ingredients. However, new ways of producing supplements have paved the way in offering better absorbed and more pure supplements with more active ingredients.
Are synthetic supplements safe?
Supplements, including synthetic vitamins which are chemically produced in a lab, can help fill nutrient gaps in the diet and minimise deficiency risk in the short term. The problem with synthetic vitamins is that they lack the cofactors required for their optimal activity in the body. This means that the body needs to draw on its own reserves to get the most out of the vitamins. Long term use of synthetic vitamins can deplete the body’s reserves of cofactors, and that’s when things get a bit foggy.
Synthetic vitamins have a lower price point which makes them an attractive choice. But due to the potential long-term risks that may be associated with them, we would not recommend taking them, even in the short term. There are better alternatives, so keep reading!
Always food first
It’s important to keep in mind that the best way to receive all the vitamins and minerals that the body needs should always be sought from food if possible. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain phytochemicals (plant chemicals), that can help fight the development and progression of many chronic diseases.
When for whatever reason, you are not able to get your daily nutrient requirements from your diet, is when you can consider supplements to top up any deficiencies. It’s important to work with a nutritionist or naturopath if you are unsure on what you might be lacking in your diet, don’t just guess as you could end up wasting a lot of money on supplements you don’t need.
We are all different and so we all require a unique approach in balancing the needs of our bodies. There will never be a one fits all approach when it comes to healing.
What to look out for
Once you have an understanding of what supplements you may benefit from, it’s time to search for the best ones for you. There are thousands of supplements in the market, all touting the benefits you can expect by taking them. It can be daunting when looking at the labels and packaging and trying to figure out if it is indeed a quality product or not. Regulations vary from country to country, and it is not uncommon to read the word “natural” on labels that are in fact mainly produced synthetically. Here are some points to consider when purchasing supplements:
- Check if the supplement has been certified by a third-party organisation. If so, check online what that organisation stands for. This will give you a good idea of the standards that they expect and whether the supplement is of high quality or not.
- Check the ingredients list – look out for fillers and bulking agents such as calcium, lactose, rice flour, sodium chloride, sorbitol. These supplements are not natural, stay away if you can.
- Check the RDA (recommended daily allowance) percentages, if they don’t provide 100% or close to 100% RDA – find another brand.
- Buy the supplement from a trusted seller, do your research first. Reach out to them and ask them any questions you have.
- Check the source of the supplement, if it is from a food source, is it certified organic? There is no point paying higher prices for food source supplements which could be laden with pesticides.
So, what are my best options?
Food source supplements
Supplements made from real, whole foods are considered natural and superior as they provide nutrients that your body is able to easily recognise and absorb. This means your body has to do a lot less work to benefit from the supplement than it would need to for say synthetic supplements.
The most effective ones are freeze-dried and not heat dried, as this process destroys the nutrients. Sometimes whole food supplements are heat dried and then synthetic vitamins are added in order to list the appreciable amounts of nutrients on the label. So, if you are ever in doubt or unsure, always check with the manufacturer what the production process is before purchasing.
Examples of natural supplements include fish oil (containing EPA/DHA), flax oil (containing alpha-linolenic acid) and vegetable and fruit concentrates which contain many nutrients. Natural supplements are efficiently and easily absorbed by the body.
Some nutrients are available as liposomal supplements. The most common nutrients available in this form are vitamin C, vitamin D, glutathione and curcumin. Liposomes are an excellent delivery method for nutrients.
Liposomes are spherical ‘sacs’ consisting of a ring of fatty acid molecules. The liposomal sac can be used to enclose and deliver whatever the sac contains directly into the cells and body tissues, directly and efficiently.
Liposomal supplements offer many benefits:
- They offer high absorption and bioavailability
- You can consume high therapeutic doses without needing to go through the digestive system which prevents gastrointestinal side effects
- The phospholipid membrane protects the enclosed substance from damage and getting lost in the gastrointestinal tract. This can be beneficial for those with digestive issues who may not absorb nutrients easily
- They help to improve the health of cell membranes
- Both water-soluble and fat-soluble active ingredients can be liposome-encapsulated and delivered to cells.
One thing to note is, because of the high-tech manufacturing process required to produce liposomal supplements, they are more expensive than other nutrients. However, a lower dose of a nutrient, when delivered via liposome, may be equivalent in effect to a much higher dose of a conventionally delivered nutrient via capsule.
Get help don’t guess
If you are still none the wiser about what supplements you may benefit from, the best form to take or in what strength, please ensure you seek advice from a qualified practitioner.
Take our short quiz and find out what therapies may be beneficial for you. This is by no means a replacement for professional support but can help to shed a little light on possible directions to take.