When looking for supplements, people are generally looking for something to support their health or compensate for a shortfall in their diet. However, there are many things to consider to make sure that the supplements you are taking to support your health aren’t doing more harm than good.
In an earlier article in this series, we discussed what supplements are and some things to consider when finding the right ones for your unique nutritional needs.
What’s In the Bottle?
Supplements are generally concentrated forms of a specific nutrient. Consider this, if that nutrient isn’t of good quality or is produced using harmful chemicals, and then concentrated, what exactly are you taking in? Knowing the quality of your supplements is something we will continue to bring to the forefront of the conversation.
When considering the source, not only should you think about the purity of the ingredients used, but also what the ingredients used to provide that nutrient are. Is the source a natural food? Hopefully! Is that source something you might be allergic to? If you are taking in allergens in the form of supplements, you are still taking in allergens. This could lead to further inflammation and cause further damage rather than helping you fill a gap or nutritional need.
Under the “Supplement Facts” listed on the label, is another section. This “Other Ingredients” section is often the part many people skim over or skip altogether, but this isn’t the time to let up. Many ingredients are added to supplements that aren’t considered a beneficial part of the supplement nutrition-wise, but they can certainly affect how the supplement will affect the body. Sources of “other ingredients” also need to be considered.
Fillers: Some nutrients are required in such small servings that fillers are used to “bulk” up the product. Sometimes it’s simply to fill the capsule, other times it bulks up the powder stirred into the cup. Some fillers include silica, silica dioxide, rice flour, and microcrystalline cellulose.
Binders: Binders help tablets stick together and help keep capsules closed. Common binders include calcium phosphate, stearic acid, and vegetable wax.
Artificial colors, flavors, or sugars: Just like in regular foods, artificial colors, flavors, and sugars can be added to supplements to make them more appealing, either visually or through flavor. With the increase in gummy supplements, liquids, and chewables, these ingredients have become more prevalent.
Capsules: The carrier capsule many supplements come in should also be considered. Some can be created from plant bases, hypromellose or hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC) are common sources as well as cellulose. Gelatin is commonly used for non-vegan sources.
Additional ingredients to be on the lookout for include:
Carrageenan as a thickening agent,
Potassium Sorbate as a preservative,
Stearic Acid as a lubricant in the manufacturing process,
Citric Acid as a preservative or flavoring,
Croscarmellose Sodium as a moisture wicking agent for storage,
Titanium Dioxide as a whitener for appearance,
Magnesium Stearate to help the product flow through the production process smoothly.
While these additives may be used in relatively small amounts, they do need to be considered as a part of the whole in quality, purity, and source.
Consider The Whole, Not Just the Parts
When shopping for vitamins or considering options, it is important to look into not just your own unique nutritional needs, but also how those will be filled by supplements. A whole-food, organic choice is always your best option. Many supplement purchases are made at the recommendation of others who may not be familiar with your unique health care needs. Some are made impulsively. In either case, it is up to you to do your homework on all the ingredients listed on the bottle.
We Do Supplements Differently
To find out how to best support your unique health needs, with pure supplements from reputable sources, contact a Wellness Way clinic and practitioner. Afterall, we don’t guess, we test.