Nutritional supplement formulas - those perplexing, confusing lists on your supplement bottle label.
I know and I'm about to tell you!
I worked in the supplement industry for a supplement manufacturer so I know how it all works behind the scenes.
As you read down this page you'll learn what the highest quality, professional grade nutritional supplement formulas should contain. Then you'll know what to
look for when comparing brands.
With this little known consumer knowledge you can zero in on the absolute best and most powerful supplements - the ones that are put together with the best of nature and cutting edge science to keep you...
It's Easy To Evaluate
There are 3 straight-forward ways you can use ‘The Formula’ as criteria to help evaluate the true quality of a supplement.
Let me explain POINT NO. 1 more clearly.
Let’s say you want to buy a supplement for immune system support. By knowing in advance which are the absolute most powerful and beneficially proven nutrients for the immune system, you can check the supplement label to see the extent to which these nutrients are included.
Are you thinking that you'll never be able to find the information to do all this let alone have the time or inclination to try?
Don’t worry. I’ve done the work for you and set it out in simple to read tables below.
As part of my research into supplements I’ve cross referenced scientific studies to create verifiable lists of the most potent and well accepted nutrients for each of our major organs and functional systems.
These are the most potent nutrients – the ones you want to see making up a significant part of your supplement.
Please keep in mind however that there is far more to a professional grade supplement than just the list of ingredients it contains.
It is the combination of actives that count. The way in which a bio-chemist combines numerous ingredients substantially impacts on their individual effectiveness.
And it is not only the active ingredients that are important but also the other components of ingredient extracts which are factors into the formula.
None-the-less having the most effective ingredients in the formula creates the foundation for a powerful supplement that does what it promises.
If you're interested in the industry's best health / vitamin supplements which are evaluated, reviewed and compared in this site, you will find a chart below showing some of these elite health / vitamin supplements and just how many of these 'most potent' ingredients they each contain.
And below that you'll find links to other tables showing science-based standards for some important ingredients - vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
Lastly I have included the safe upper level for doses of vitamins and minerals - no supplement should exceed these! Especially fat soluble vitamins which can build up in the body over time and become TOXIC.
How can I know if the does amounts of key ingredients in my supplement are enough to create the health benefits shown in clinical studies?
Ahh - that’s the key question for supplement users but it’s very difficult to answer. Vitamins and minerals are not a problem but for other ingredients the only real way to know is through a thorough examination of scientific evidence - a lengthy and tedious process. On-top of that most people don’t know how to evaluate the quality of clinical studies.
For today I want to introduce you to 4 standards which the most effective supplements meet.
You can use any nutritional supplement formulas to check on these standards, providing they contain the ingredients involved.
They show the clinically proven beneficial range for dose amounts of some important ingredients. These ranges have been scientifically validated by well accepted research or based on expert assumptions on clinical studies.
They come from the Pharmanex Company who uses them (as at Jan 2006) as part of a range of standards they’ve created to conduct challenges against their own product ‘Lifepak’ – one of the supplements I’ve evaluated and reviewed in nutritional-supplement-truths.com.
I have conducted my own research to confirm the validity of the supporting research used by Pharmanex to create these 4 standards.
Any supplement marketed as a high quality, comprehensive product aimed at promoting overall good health by:
must meet these 4 standards!
That’s not to say that these standards are any kind of official criteria for determining quality supplements. They were obviously created to show Lifepak in the best light. Other studies could no doubt be used to adjust these criteria but none-the-less they are backed by good science and serve as a credible guideline for focusing in on the most efficacious supplements.
The ingredients involved are:
1. B Vitamins used in homocysteine metabolism
Homocysteine is an amino acid found in the blood and high homocysteine levels are strongly linked to heart disease – the most common cause of death in the US. Even mildly elevated levels increase your chances of death from any cause - not just heart disease.
The key B Vitamins we need to consider are:
because they maintain low blood levels of homocysteine.
Flavonoids are a class of phytonutrients which have powerful medicinal properties. They show anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-cancer activity.
"The beneficial effects of fruit, vegetables, and tea or even red wine have been attributed to flavonoid compounds rather than to known nutrients and vitamins." (2)
If you don’t know whether your supplement has any flavonoids, check this list of the most important ones:
Carotenoids are another important category of phytonutrients with many well documented health promoting properties (e.g. anti-cancer). The best sources are fruits and vegetables which is why we should all aim to eat a lot more of these disease preventing foods!!
Common carotenoids are beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene, and cryptoxanthin (3)
Quality supplements supply beneficial amounts of these potent phytonutrients.
* Pharmanex does not include Zeaxanthin in this standard but I have included it because it is a potent carotenoid beneficial for vision – it is an expensive ingredient but should be there.
4. Trace Minerals
Minerals are critical components of many body functions that support good health but they are difficult to absorb. Bioavailability and intestinal absorption is increased when minerals are included in the organic salt form or as amino acid chelates.
Research shows that this benefit is significant only for zinc, iron, copper and to a lesser degree chromium. Quality nutritional supplement formulas will contain minerals in these more expensive, bioavailable forms.
There are thousands of "high potency" multi vitamin and mineral supplements in the market – beware.
When it comes to vitamins – more is not better!
Americans in particular have been bombarded into a general belief that they need high levels of vitamins and minerals in supplements – up to 100% of the RDA’s and often more. Keep in mind that vitamins are the cheapest components for supplement manufacturers to include - very cheap!
Remember - good old vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) costs approx. $15 per kilo whereas some phytonutrients cost more than $1000 per kilo!!
Certain groups of people may need high to very high doses of some vitamins/minerals for specific reasons (e.g. sickness, pregnancy) but they are the exception. If you are not in this category you should not exceed the figures listed in the table below.
These limits are from the No-Observed Adverse Effect Levels (NOAEL) list created by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN). This serves as a credible guideline for safe upper limits of vitamins and minerals.
CRN is a Washington-based trade association representing ingredient suppliers and manufacturers in the dietary supplement industry.
Although nutritional supplement formulas are complex things you can still use them as part of a range of criteria to break a supplement apart in order to thoroughly evaluate it from different perspectives.
Examining the forms, dosage amounts and total number of ingredients in a multi nutrient supplement, gives you a good indication of just how much quality, effectiveness, safety and value for money has been built in.
By combining this, along with the answers you get from using the other 5 evaluation criteria explained at nutritional-supplement-truths.com; you’ll get to know without any doubt just how good a supplement really is.
You'll have no trouble finding the best multi nutrient supplement on the market today.
(Hint: It’s one of the industry leading super supplements reviewed in this site. Study the evaluation charts and product reviews throughout the site - or perhaps you may like to redo the evaluations yourself without looking at my work).
Alternatively if you're pressed for time and want to get straight to the name of the best vitamin supplement, you can take this shortcut route to my best vitamin supplements - best product page to find the answer.
Ok - that’s it for nutritional supplement formulas. Let’s move on to the next really important evaluation criteria – Ingredient quality in nutritional supplements
(1) Droge, W. and Breitkreutz, R., "Glutathione and immune function," Proc. Nutr. Soc., 59, 595-600 (2000).
(2) Wikipedia website. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flavonoid
(3) Office of Dietary Supplements website.http://www.ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamina.asp