Montana Natural MedicineBlack Bear Naturopathic Clinic, PC

General Family Medicine, IV Chelation Therapy, Environmental Medicine, Bio-identical Hormones

How To Choose A Quality Vitamin Supplement

And Why It Is Important To Do So!

The 'Standard American Diet' produces multiple, subclinical* vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Unrecognized vitamin and mineral deficiencies contribute to the development and progression of chronic diseases including: heart disease, strokes, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and more. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 70% of Americans will die from these chronic diseases.

This problem of chronic disease and inadequate vitamin and mineral intakes has become so great that in 2002, the Journal of the American Medical Association stated: "it appears prudent for all adults to take vitamin supplements".

It is important to take a daily multi-vitamin/mineral supplement. Nutrients 'work in harmony' - they are not solo drugs. It is also important to remember that supplements do NOT replace a healthy diet - they only supplement it. Be sure your diet is rich in disease fighting nutrients by eating 5 to 9 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables, and 3-5 servings of whole grains every day. Fresh nuts, legumes and plant oils/fish oils also help to prevent chronic disease.

A variety of different forms of vitamins and minerals can be found in supplements. For obvious reasons, the cheapest forms are often used in 'retail' brands. Recent medical research has demonstrated that the common cheap forms of minerals (such as zinc oxide or magnesium oxide) are often not absorbed. This means they are useless.

How do you avoid the mistake of choosing a supplement that is inadequate and therefore, will not help you meet your goal of better health? First, recognize that with supplements, like any other product, quality costs a little more. Paying a little more for a product that works makes a lot more sense than paying a little less but getting a useless product.

Second, the following 'tests' will always be met by a quality supplement.

  1. The bottle has an expiration date on it.
  2. The bottle is opaque because light can damage some vitamins.
  3. All 'B-vitamins' meet or exceed the RDA levels. Vitamin C levels should be at least 2-5 times the RDA.
  4. All vitamins and minerals should be listed in their exact chemical form. For example: d-alpha-tocopherol not 'vitamin E' and calcium citrate not 'calcium'.
  5. The supplements are in capsule form and not tablets (exceptions to this rule can occur with certain premium brands).
  6. Quality supplements do NOT contain sugars, preservatives, coloring agents, wheat products, lactose (this is different than 'lactate'), etc.
  7. Vitamin E is present in the natural form, d-alpha-tocopherol, and not the synthetic form, dl-alpha-tocopherol. Look for that little 'l' and remember 'l' means the product is a 'looser'.
  8. Vitamin D is present as Cholecalciferol; not Ergocalciferol.
  9. Calcium is chelated as calcium citrate, or calcium lactate, or other chelated** forms, but NOT calcium carbonate, eggshell calcium, oyster shell calcium, etc.
  10. Magnesium, Zinc, and other minerals are chelated (e.g. magnesium citrate, or glycinate, or gluconate, etc.) and NOT in unabsorbable oxide forms (e.g. magnesium oxide, zinc oxide, etc.).
  11. The supplement is 'complete' with all 13 vitamins***, these macrominerals (calcium, magnesium and potassium), these microminerals (zinc, copper, selenium, chromium, manganese, molybdenum), and these ultra-trace minerals (boron and vanadium). Note: iron may be included in certain products, e.g. for women, but not other products (do not take iron supplements unless laboratory tests show you actually need it); copper may also be excluded from some quality supplements.

The marketing of nutritional supplements is a 'buyers beware' jungle. Every company, retail salesperson, multi-level marketing representative, etc. will have a unique 'sales-pitch' to promote their products. Often, these unlicensed 'experts' lack the real knowledge and training required to scientifically evaluate their marketing hype. To protect yourself, be sure their products 'pass' the basic tests listed above. Claims like 'USP' or 'FDA-screened' do not assure optimum quality. Do not hesitate to ask your healthcare professional for guidance when choosing your supplements.

Subclinical deficiencies of vitamins and minerals are common and increase your risks for heart disease, cancers, strokes, osteoporosis, diabetes and many neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease. Daily use of a quality vitamin/mineral supplement, in addition to a healthy diet, is a simple and effective insurance plan for reducing your risks for chronic disease, improving your health, and optimizing your quality of life.

* Subclinical means there are no obvious signs or symptoms of the deficiency.

** Chelated minerals are chemically bound to an organic molecule (e.g. magnesium citrate). Common examples of these organic chelators include: citrate, malate, gluconate, lactate, glycinate, picolinate, ascorbate, etc.)

*** The thirteen basic vitamins are:

  • Vitamin C
  • The fat-soluble vitamins A,D,E and K
  • Anemia/pernicious anemia
  • The B-vitamins:
    • B1 - Thiamine
    • B2 - Riboflavin
    • B3 - Niacin/Niacinamide
    • B5 - Pantothenic Acid
    • B6 - Pyridoxine
    • B12 - Cobalamin (cyano-, methyl- or hydroxyl-)
    • Folate (folic acid)
    • Biotin


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