Nutritional supplements

Eating the right nutrients will make you achieve optimum health, a stage in which the body can function optimally. Back in the days we could obtain all of the essential nutrients from our daily diet, but unfortunately our nutrition does not contain all the elements it contained before. Most soil is depleted of many important minerals, which means that our food—even organic food—doesn’t always have optimum nutritional value. We live in a toxic and polluted environment in which the quantity and making profits is of greater importance than the quality of the food we eat. One of the best ways to overcome this deficiency is to take supplements on a regular basis. There are hundreds of supplements to choose from, which can make it pretty confusing to choose which are best for you. Whenever possible, use “whole food” supplements; these contain most or all of the original components of the source from which the supplement was derived. Often, they are very “nutrient-dense,” the way nature intended.

Also, our needs for nutrients have changed. We are under stress, deal with deadlines and demand much more from our bodies than ever before. Therefore we also want to play sports, have a social life, spend time with our families and friends. We combine a hectic lifestyle with easy snacks and take out food, simply because we are too tired to shop for fresh vegetables and lean protein to put them together in a healthy dish. This is increasing our needs for most nutrients, and at the same time we are not getting enough nutrients from our daily diet. This is why we need to fill up these gaps with food supplements. So when you want to integrate supplements and vitamins into your diet, it’s important that you know how to distinguish one food supplement from another. There are some easy tricks to see if you’re dealing with a high quality product or not. 

This is what you need to know:
Nutrients can exist in more than one chemical form! Different forms result in different levels of bioavailability. For example zinc and copper have average absorption ranges of 30% – 80% depending on the source and the individual user. That’s a huge difference! So disintegration and dissolution levels by themselves are insufficient indicators of bioavailability in nutritional supplements.

The nutrient ''form'' must be considered!
Using current research we can determine the more bioavailable forms of some nutrients and then check to see if that form is included in a supplement we are evaluating. Minerals are probably the most well known and well researched example when discussing bioavailable forms.

Minerals are so crucial to optimal health and vitality yet many people do not take in enough minerals from diet alone. They are very hard to absorb. The body often mis-regulates their transport and some, sharing the same metabolic pathways, will compete against one another resulting in too much of one and a deficiency of another.

Some minerals can be manufactured in certain forms that are better at ‘getting in’. One such form is the chelated form. A ‘chelator’ is a substance formed of molecules that tightly bind to metal atoms (minerals in this case) and forces them to go wherever the chelator goes - helper molecules which assist minerals on their journey into our bodies. This bound pair is a compound and it is called a chelate. In the simplest sense you could think of the term ‘chelated’ to mean ‘firmly attached’. So, chelates enhance the passage of minerals through the intestinal wall lining into the blood, tissues and cells thus increasing total mineral bioavailability. They allow for greater amounts of minerals to enter your blood stream than what your body would ordinarily allow.

There are different types of mineral chelates. The most absorbable form of mineral chelates is called Organic acid salts. There is a great deal of accepted research available to support this.

Examples of these chelates which you want in your supplement are:

  • Picolinates
  • Gluconates
  • Lactates
  • Succinates
  • Citrates
  • Orotates
  • Nicotinates
  • Ascorbates
  • Fumurates
  • Acetates 

For example:
If calcium is included in a supplement as an organic salt you will see it listed on the nutritional facts label as: Calcium as Calcium Citrate

Start checking your labels!

What you don’t want to see are inexpensive and relatively non-absorbent inorganic mineral salts:

  • Chloride
  • Hydroxide
  • Oxides
  • Phosphates
  • Sulfates
  • Carbonates

Another form of chelate that produces a stronger bond with Amino Acid Chelate: the minerals that are chelated with amino acids. The body readily absorbs amino acids. On a Supplement Facts label you’ll commonly see amino acid chelates listed like this example:

''Boron as amino acid chelate''

But this type of listing is not good enough! Products labeled like this may not be true chelates – it depends on the source and properties of the chelating agent. If a supplement contains true amino acid chelates the name of the amino acid to which the mineral is chelated must be shown.

Keep checking those labels!