There is no shortage of options for people buying supplements to boost their health. With so many choices, it’s hard to know where to start. And this is a shame, because supplements can make a big daily difference to people – like me – living with a chronic illness. Based on the advice of experts and my own experience, here are a few things to look out for.
1. One-a-day may not be enough
It sounds fantastic to get all the nutrients you need by taking just one pill a day. But ask yourself, is that realistic? People living with chronic illnesses can really benefit from multiple different vitamins and minerals. But they have to be in sufficient quantities.
It is hard, if not impossible, to pack everything into one capsule – the volume just would not fit. Yet, there are one-a-day multivitamin products on the market, with 10 or even more ingredients.
> Check the daily dosage recommended for the supplement you are considering
2. You are not average
Vitamins and minerals are typically labelled with a number called the Nutrient Reference Value (NRV). It indicates the percentage provided of the daily amount a healthy person needs to prevent deficiency. For example: 80g of Vitamin C, with an NRV of 100%, means there is sufficient quantity to meet a healthy person’s requirements.
The problem with NRV? It is based on the average needs of healthy people. If you have a specific condition or deficiency, you will likely need more than the average.
> Look for NRV values of at least 100% for certain crucial vitamins, such as Vitamin C, D3 and K2
3. The devil’s in the detail
Certain nutrients come in different forms, with varying effectiveness. For example, turmeric can vary hugely in its level of concentration and the amount of curcuminoids – the active ingredient – it contains. A good, high strength formula would be 95% curcuminoid, yet there are products with extracts that deliver under 50%.
Another example is magnesium, which comes in various forms, like oxide or citrate. While magnesium citrate is better absorbed by the body, it is also more expensive as a raw material. Therefore some supplement companies use magnesium oxide in their products, even though it is of lower quality.
It’s hard keeping up with all these details, but if there is a particular ingredient that is important to you and you condition, it’s worth doing a bit of research.
> Know the difference between different concentrations and types of ingredients
4. Raise the standard
Vitamins and mineral-based products are typically classified as ‘food supplement’, which means they don’t have the same production standards that medicines have. However, higher quality goods are likely to be made in facilities that are certified, which means they are regularly checked to ensure they are adhering to high standards.
Two common standards are the GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) and ISO 9001 quality management certification. Products made in the European Union (EU) adhere to strict manufacturing standards, so it’s also important to check where the product is made.
> Make sure the supplement you choose is made in a certified facility, ideally made in the EU
5. Good value beats low price
There are a lot of cheap supplements on the market place that look like great deals. But don’t confuse price with value. It’s expensive to produce a supplement with high doses of multiple high quality vitamins and minerals. We all love a bargain, but products that seem too good to be true probably are.
> Take a close look at the quantity and quality of what you are buying, not just the price
Positive Science People produces a high quality, great value supplement called Joint Care, designed to fight the common symptoms of arthritis.
Joint Care has 15 ingredients, in high strength (eg. 563% NRV of Vitamin C and Curcumin Extract providing 95% curcuminoids). They have a daily recommended dosage of four capsules and are made in the UK, under GMP license.
Find out more here.
Photo by Angel Sinigersky on Unsplash