What You Should Know Before Buying Nutritional Supplements

Apr 10, 2017

Can a single food source provide all the nutrients your body needs?

It’s true that pure herbal medicines such as deep sea algae, forest roots, and mountain herbs can benefit some people with specific health issues, however, none of these can provide a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in optimal amounts.

This is why nutritional science has evolved to understand that we need nutritional supplements to support our diet

There are a lot of companies who claim that they are the best in micronutrient supplementation, so how do we differentiate supplements that offer true health from those which are merely trying to make a profit?

Here are five smart questions you should ask when choosing the best nutritional supplement for you and your family.

1. Is it complete?

Cheap brands of supplements often miss out on the more costly nutrients. Hence, they resort to excessively featuring those vitamins or minerals that are high in content in their generally incomplete formula.

Multivitamin and mineral supplements are at times advertised to contain B complex vitamins, but only contain B1, B6 and B12. Trace minerals such as selenium, molybdenum, chromium, and vanadium are often missing.

2. Is it balanced?

Nutrients work in synergy. You might have heard that vitamins A and C, coupled with zinc, provide outstanding immune support. Although it is true that these nutrients play key roles in immunity, it wouldn’t be possible without a balanced supply of all the supporting nutrients that enable them to function.

The best supplement companies employ scientists, nutritionists, and physicians to constantly improve research on how nutrients interact with each other from digestion to absorption, and from transport to function. 

This advanced research is applied to balance nutrient formulations and avoid nutrients from interfering with the absorption of one another. Part of this includes increasing those nutrients that are quickly used up in normal metabolism to avoid limiting factors.

3. Is it potent?

A good supplement provides sufficient amounts for optimal health. These amounts are often higher than the recommended daily allowance as these are minimum levels that are set to prevent deficiency in 98% of the healthy population.

What if you are part of the 2% - taller and more muscular, or beyond 50 years of age - who needs more nutrients just to prevent deficiency? What if you already have a lifestyle disease, an autoimmune disorder, or low resistance to infectious diseases? Or what if you are an athlete or a really hardworking person who demands more of his body than the average person?

Then you would need a scientifically-studied, and outstandingly potent micronutrient supplement. A formulation of nutrients in low amounts, to say it is complete while being cheap, is not for anyone.

4. Is it bioavailable?

Bioavailability is defined as “the relative absorption of a nutrient and its accumulation for use in the body.” Nutrients come in different forms and some are more easily absorbed than others. 

The bioavailability of a nutrient can also be affected by other nutrients in a source, hence, we are never sure that we get all nutrients from our food intake.

Breakthrough nutritional supplements have this covered. For example, these consider that some nutrients are better absorbed in divided doses when taken with different substances. So you might see vitamin C occur as calcium, potassium, magnesium, and zinc-ascorbate in a single supplement.

In addition, minerals are more readily absorbed as chelates - complexed with a protein monomer. These appear as amino acid complexes in a mineral supplement formula.

5. Is it safe?

Good supplements avoid containing iron and preformed vitamin A in their formulas as these two nutrients are stored in the body and can cause toxicity in high amounts. The supplement can then contain copper which helps in recycling iron already in the body, and beta carotene which can be metabolized into vitamin A as needed.

Supplement companies should also be certified for good manufacturing practices (GMP) and pharmaceutical standard GMP is best. This means that the supplements, starting from its quarantined raw materials to its finished product have tested and passed for zero biological contamination.


Our cells are prone to premature degeneration caused by different factors such as age, genetics, lifestyle, and environment. However, with the right combination of essential nutrients and antioxidants, it is possible to maintain the healthy state of cells and minimize signs of degeneration.

Safe supplements follow exact standards which ensure purity and uniformity in every tablet. These should be free from contaminants, created from raw materials assured of potency, and contain the exact amount of ingredients declared on the label. These should also be tested for bioavailability and dissolve completely for absorption.

To know the best supplements in the market, check out the Nutrisearch Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements. It discusses 18 health support criteria that you should look for in a product.

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