Understanding Food Labels

Quickly Identify A Quality Supplement

Look at the "other ingredients" usually at the bottom of the label. Artificial colors and sweeteners are used to make the product look better or taste better. Avoid the artificial sweeteners and colors:

  • Aspartame
  • Saccharin
  • Sucralose
  • FD&C blue, yellow, red, etc
  • "Lakes" (colors)
 

Fillers are used in supplements to make the production easier and faster. Unfortunately, these fillers can compromise the effectiveness of the nutrients in the supplement. Fillers are often called "flowering agents" on the label. Binders are used for bulk and stabilization of the product.  Lubricants are used to allow the powder form to process through the machines more easily.  Some common lubricants, fillers and binders include:

  • gelatin
  • hydrogenated oil (strictly avoid)
  • magnesium stearate
  • maltodextrin
  • microcrystalline cellulose
  • modified cellulose (for example hydroxypropyl methylcellulose)
  • polyethylene glycol
  • polyvinyl alcohol
  • crospovidone (PPVP or polyvinylpolypyrrolidone)
  • potassium sorbate
  • talc
  • sodium benzoate
  • sodium stearyl fumarate
  • stearic acid
  • xanthum gum
 

 

It's almost impossible to find a supplement without any lubricants, fillers and binders.  It's a good rule of thumb, to purchase supplements that contain no more than 2 of these ingredients listed on the label. For various reasons, certain toxic metals are added to poor quality supplements.  Some common toxic elements you should avoid that you'll see actually printed on the label are:

  • titanium dioxide
  • aluminum
  • nickel
  • tin
  • silver
 

Vitamin D and Vitamin E

Look at the source of Vitamin D and Vitamin E.  The Vitamin D should be D3 or cholecalciferol.  It should not be the synthetic form D2 or ergocalciferol.  The Vitamin E should be d-alpha tocopherol with mixed tocopherol.  Mixed tocopherols are the best.  It should not be the synthetic form dl-alpha tocopherol.

Megadose

A supplement that is labeled "megadose" does not mean that it is any better. Your body can only absorb so much of a nutrient and the rest is eliminated from your body as a waste product. For example, you can only absorb about 500mg of Calcium at a given time.

Thoughts on Fish Oils

Fish oils are known for getting oxidized easily. To stop this, and to stop the oils from going rancid, manufacturers of fish oil products add preservatives to them. The best quality supplements contain only vitamin E as the preservative and are free of all artificial preservatives. The good thing about vitamin E is that it has a high nutritional value also; however, it also acts as a powerful anti-oxidant.  In general, it's a good rule of thumb to keep all of your fat soluble supplements (Vitamins A, D, E, and K and GLA, EPA, ALA, DHA) in the refrigerator.

When is the best time to take a supplement?

The best time to take the majority of supplements is with meals. Supplements serve to enhance the nutritional density of your food and there are enzymes and other properties in food that enhance the absorption of the nutrients.

Do I Need More Than Just a Multiple Vitamin?

Even if you ate a perfect diet, USDA data has shown that even if you ate a "perfect diet", our food supply is simply not as nutritious as it was 30 years ago.  Supplementing your diet can help to correct these short-comings.  The only way to know if the supplements you're taking are working or to know exactly what vitamins/minerals and dosages you need is to get tested.  Using bloodwork and other diagnostic tools will tell us where the problem areas are occurring or just developing.  During your report of findings we will carefully note major and minor conditions that may lead to serious illness.  This detailed report will explain your test findings, as well as the nutrient and dietary recommendations based upon your test results. Call today to set up a consultation.

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