Vitamins are like an insurance policy. You take them because they give you a baseline of nutrients to serve as a backup to your (mostly) healthy diet. However, not all are created equal, and there are some that are definitely better for you than others. The process is made even more complicated by contradicting information and misleading advertising. So how do you know which type or brand to choose?
Here are five important things to consider before buying your next bottle.
- Make sure they are tested by a 3rd party
Keep in mind that the vitamin and supplement industry is not regulated the way that the pharmaceutical industry is. Currently, there’s no standard or regulatory definition for vitamins or dietary supplements. Simply stated, manufacturers aren’t required to gain FDA approval before making or selling them. So your best bet is to buy vitamins and supplements that have been tested for safety and purity by a third party. Look for these letters on the label: USP, NSF, or GMP.
- Look for activated forms of nutrients
Some of the best vitamins on the market contain nutrients that have already been converted into their active forms. For instance, vitamin B6 (important for hormonal balance), can be taken as pyridoxine, the inactive form, or pyridoxine 5-phosphate, the active form (abbreviated as P-5-P on a label). When you take the active form of a nutrient, your body is able to absorb more of it and at a faster rate.
- Beware of additives and fillers
Make sure your vitamin doesn’t contain added synthetic colors, fillers, and ingredients that you don’t recognize or understand. Vitamin makers often add these compounds to extend a product’s shelf life, or to make it less expensive to manufacture. It’s always best to buy clean, natural products that are made from whole food sources.
- Don’t take supplements on an empty stomach
Pro Tip: Don’t take supplements on an empty stomach. Popping your vitamins before breakfast can make you feel nauseated. Just as important: If you’re taking fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K, it’s best to have a little food with fat in it at the same time—say, avocado toast. The fat will help your body absorb the vitamins and minerals.
Where to look:
Hammer Lane Pharmacy
2339 W. Hammer Ln., Ste J, Stockton