What about the time release claim? Time released supplements aren’t that beneficial because the body doesn’t need an hourly supply of nutrients. Nutrient deficiencies don’t develop by the hour–or even overnight.
Some manufacturers maintain that their products don’t contain sugar, preservatives or artificial colors or flavors. Isn’t this good news?
“Yes,” says Dana Reed, MS, the Director of Nutrition for Vitamins.com, an online vitamin company. “Supplements shouldn’t contain fillers, artificial flavoring, colors or sweeteners.” You pay for vitamins, not junk.
Efficient absorption – the mark of quality
So what’s wrong with those cheap vitamins we can pick up at the grocery?
As mentioned earlier, the heavy coating prevents the tablet from breaking up quickly once we swallow it. Secondly, our body can’t break down and use the nutrients in these vitamins before our system flushes them out. Money spent on these vitamins is literally being flushed down the toilet.
The U.S. Pharmacopoeia sets standards for vitamin disintegration that may be helpful. It says that vitamin and mineral compounds should disintegrate in the intestine within about 30 minutes. One good test is to soak your vitamin in a glass of water and see if it dissolves or starts to break up within a short period of time. If the tablet doesn’t, it may be time to look for a new supplement. But remember that you can’t test capsules in this way.
The best way to increase your body’s absorption of a good quality multivitamin supplement is by taking it with meals. Reed recommends taking a supplement after both breakfast and dinner. “Multiple dosing allows for a more complete formula with higher RDA levels of nutrients, enhanced absorption, and allows the body to maintain more consistent blood levels of the nutrients,” says Reed.
The most effective nutritional supplement program considers many factors, such as diet, lifestyle and activity level, personal health, family history and health objectives. No one multi is the best formula or product for everyone. Select your multi carefully based on your individual nutritional needs.
“When I consult with my clients I ask them a series of questions that enables me to guide them in designing an individual program,” says Reed.
Supplements are most effective when taken as part of a comprehensive program of diet and exercise. “A multi should serve as the foundation,” advises Reed. “With the right program, most people will find their immune response enhanced, energy levels up, and over the long term, the process of aging delayed.” All are great reasons for checking out a quality multivitamin supplement that’s right for you.
Vitamin Do’s and Don’ts
Never buy a multi that doesn’t clearly list the amount of each ingredient. A “laundry list” of ingredients without the IU or mg amounts is a red flag to leave it on the shelf.
Don’t pay extra for “chelated” minerals. Chelated means the vitamins are · combined with proteins. Some claim that the process promotes better absorption of the vitamins, and it may, but a quality multi taken with meals will give you good absorption.
Every vitamin product you buy should have an expiration date because the potency decreases with time. Potency refers to the strength and the freshness of the product. All labels should also have a batch number in the event of a recall.
Tablets or capsules? Pressed tablets can contain more nutrients than the equivalent amount of capsules or softgels. Plus, you can do the water test to see how quickly they breakdown.
Products packaged in containers that reduce the effects of light, heat and moisture will help retain the vitamin’s potency longer. Look for vitamins in tinted or dark color bottles.
Store your vitamins in a cool, dry, dark space. The fridge or the bathroom medicine cabinet can contain moisture and humidity that breaks down vitamins before their expiration date.