Not all vitamins and supplements are created equally. Some have excellent quality ingredients with research to ensure that they will do what they say and great quality control, while others are made with cheap and poor-quality ingredients. In saying that, price is not always a guarantee that you are getting a good quality product. When it comes down to the nitty gritty of it all, it is the quality of the ingredients that matters.
Calcium is a great example, there are so many brands on the market and your GP may recommended you take a certain brand of calcium supplement. However, some brands contain poor quality calcium called calcium carbonate, which is very hard for your body to absorb. While the tablet says it contains 600mg of calcium you are likely to absorb only about 100mg if you are lucky, so the rest of the tablet goes down the toilet, or even worse can increase your risk of forming kidney stones.
There are several other calcium supplements on the market that use Calcium glycinate or Calcium citrate which have far greater absorption rates with fewer side effects than Calcium carbonate. These forms of Calcium are more expensive and are sometimes lower doses which you may think means they are not great value for money. In the long run they are going to give you a much better outcome for your health.
The other products that come to mind that can vary a lot in quality are:
Some of the new gummy style vitamins: In my professional opinion these can be lollies pretending to be vitamins, they are not my favourite ‘new fashion’ in the supplement industry. Offering very little nutritional value, the children's ranges are of special concern, as parents see the advertising and feel they are purchasing products that will help their children’s health. Gummies can also contain either high amounts of sugar, or artificial sweeteners, flavours and colours.
Fish oil: not all 1000mg fish oils contain the same amount of active ingredients and going to a 2000mg capsule is also no guarantee you are getting what you need. My preferred product here is Ethical Nutrients high strength liquid fish oil. It has a slightly oily texture, but you only need 1 tsp, the taste isn’t ‘fishy’ and it is odourless. You can always follow your oil with a drink or some food. One teaspoon of this product is preferable to taking anywhere up to 12 capsules a day for a similar dose!!
Magnesium: Avoid any magnesium products that contain an ingredient called heavy oxide, it causes more upset tummies and diarrhoea, and has very poor absorption. The Magnesium product I recommend is Mag-Sup, which is fast acting, easily absorbed, and economical. The dose can also be easily adjusted to suit the individual.
Turmeric: This is an incredibly effective natural pain reliever for many people and is one of the fastest selling products on my vitamin shelves. Can you believe that in the Pharmacy I work at there are over 50 different products containing turmeric! It makes selection difficult if you aren’t a Naturopath.
Turmeric in its natural form is not well absorbed as far as its pain-relieving action is concerned, so adding some to your food will probably only improve the flavour. There are substances in turmeric called curcuminoids, these are what you want for effective pain relief. In good quality brands curcuminoids are often combined with herbs such as black pepper or ginger for better absorption and circulation through the body and they also provide some additional pain relief.
My recommendation here is Oriental Botanicals Curcumin Excel, it contains a highly absorbable form of turmeric, as well as other ingredients that assist it to work fast. It works fast!! I've had clients tell me they've had pain relief in a matter of hours, I've known clients to be able to work with their GP to reduce their doses of pain medication with the help of this product.
You are probably thinking by now that buying vitamins and supplements that are actually going to work is a nightmare! My final recommendation is; ask for advice from a qualified natural health professional and they will assist you to make the best possible choices.