The need to look after your own health is an important one – it’s arguably the most important of them all. That’s why many people turn to some kind of dietary supplement to help themselves manage their health. While supplements are often booed for their very existence, some of the criticism they receive is unfair.
The naysayers suggest that no one should need to take supplements if they are eating a balanced diet. This is, quite simply, not true. Vitamin and nutrient deficiencies can and do happen, no matter how good your diet is. This can be due to health problems that impact your ability to digest, or eating a vegan diet, which can mean you suffer deficiencies in vitamins only found in animal products.
So you may now be expecting that we’re going to plow on, advocating relentlessly for supplements – right? Not quite. There’s a problem brewing with supplements, which is that there is a marked difference in the efficacy of the kind of supplements you buy.
As a general rule, it’s fair to say that the cheaper a supplement is, the worse quality it is. It is still going to have some benefit, but there are other issues that you need to be aware of before you select based entirely on cost.
All supplements contain some form of filler, be it binding agents or an additional benefit the manufacturers think that you need. The problem is that with cheap and simple supplements, the fillers can be overwhelming in their quantities. They are also unlikely to be the best quality of filler.
For example, studies have shown that so-called ‘inactive’ filler ingredients can actually be harmful to health. It’s far more likely you will find poorer quality in cheap, mass-produced, non-natural forms of supplements than those which are more ethically sourced.
The quality of the inner ingredient can be different, also. B12, for example, can be found in two forms: cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin. Methylcobalamin is more expensive to produce and thus to buy, but it’s also by far the more effective form. They’re both technically B12, but that doesn’t mean that you’re going to be getting the same benefits from the two forms.
You may also suffer side effects from cheaper methods of producing the same molecules. Many of the common calcium side effects are caused by the form of calcium being used in the medication, in this case, rock-based rather than the better-tolerated plant version.
The B12 and calcium examples are just the beginning when it comes to effective supplement understanding. They have different types, but one is far more effective than the other when it comes to gaining the best health benefits.
So What Do You Do?
If you’re considering taking a supplement, then be very careful to learn the difference between active and inactive ingredients. It’s also best to look for supplements that are derived from natural forms, rather than synthetically produced. By doing this, you can guarantee that you’re getting the best quality that you can afford – and your health will stand to benefit the most.