Are your vitamin supplements okay? Are you wasting your money?
You might think vitamin supplements are a bit off topic when it comes to heart health. But actually not. Various vitamins have been studied in terms of their importance to heart health. Vitamin B6 has been linked to a reduction in heart attacks in women. Vitamin C has been known to help lower blood pressure. Vitamin D and vitamin E have also been mentioned when discussing heart health.
How to know which and how many vitamin supplements to take
We have the government’s RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance). And we have other recommendations from various experts. Some of the government’s RDA figures are considered inaccurate by some experts. Most experts advise you to try to get as many vitamins and minerals as possible from your diet. And many recommend adding supplements to fill in gaps where you may not be getting enough of these nutrients from food.
I’ve always thought it made sense to take vitamin supplements if I wasn’t getting what I needed from the food I was eating. As I continued to learn more and more about the content of our diet, I became more and more convinced that we needed supplements. I’m also more concerned, and confused, about the quality of supplements. More on that below.
Here’s a short list of supplements I’ve seen recommended. Especially for heart health.
– Vitamin D (2000IU or more, up to 8000IU)
– Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplement (1 to 3 grams of DHA and EPA)
– Supplement vitamin C and vitamin E if the multivitamin lacks this
How do you know which brand of vitamin supplement to buy?
If you take supplements that don’t work, you’re just wasting your time and money. So you want to get this right.
Think about it. If you take the same supplements for years only to find out that they don’t contain any nutrients, or that your system can’t absorb those nutrients, it’s a waste of time and money. And you’re also missing out on any health benefits you might have achieved with better supplements or foods!
You need to know which supplements are working. And which ones are not. Finding the answer is not easy.
When you search for supplement reviews, you will come across websites that claim to have reviewed them. They provide their results with graphs that rank the best to the worst. Sometimes, taking a closer look, you will also find that this website also sells supplements. And of course what they sell is usually recommended. Reviews are only part of the picture. Studies involving actual and documented cases are very difficult to do. There are so many variables involved.
This report appears to be based on ratings by consumers. Not a scientific study. Some information is provided on this web page but the full report is available for purchase. The Consumer Lab has other research that might be useful too. They charge a fee for much of their information.
Vitamin supplements and quality control
USP (United States Pharmacopeia) is a non-profit organization that sets standards for medicines, foodstuffs, and dietary supplements that are produced, distributed, and consumed worldwide. You will see their label (USP) on some of the supplement bottles they have tested. Their stamp means they have tested the product and approved it according to their testing. This means the product has met their standards.
However, that does not mean the product is what you need. For example, I have a bottle of vitamin E pills that has the USP stamp on it. However, the vitamin E in the bottle is a synthetic type. It is stated as the main ingredient on the bottle label. The synthetic type (di-alpha tocopheryl acetate) is not recommended by nutritionists. So I have a bottle of vitamin E with the USP stamp of approval on it. A bottle of vitamin E that I would throw in the trash!
There are 2 categories of supplements that are often discussed. Food grade, which meets the standards set for human consumption. And pharmaceutical grade, which meets pharmaceutical standards. According to Wiktionary, pharmaceutical grades are “Standards of purity suitable for medicinal use.” Apparently most supplements are not labeled with either of these 2 values. Some say the pharmaceutical grade claims used by some supplement sellers are just a marketing ploy. Others say it’s an important consideration.
I am currently taking a Silver +50 Centrum multivitamin supplement. I have seen Centrum rated well on many websites. However, according to one article Centrum was rated very low in a book by Lyle MacWilliam entitled “A Comparative Guide To Nutritional Supplements”. This is a book published at the request of the Canadian Parliament to provide the public with information in order to make good decisions regarding supplements.
This article also lists some of the top-ranked multivitamin supplements as follows…
1. Usana Health Sciences (96.1 in 3rd edition)
2. Create a Health Alliance (not included in the 3rd edition)
3. Douglas Laboratories (75.1 in 3rd edition)
4. TrueStar Health (not included in the 3rd edition)
I look forward to providing some good recommendations on supplements and brands. Through the process of researching this article I have discovered there are more questions than answers. I am more suspicious of the supplements being sold. I’m not sure that spending more gives better quality. The “pharmaceutical grade” and “USP” label claims don’t convince me that a product is useful.
I think the only good recommendation I can give is to try to get the more important nutrients from the food you eat. That’s one way to make sure you’re getting quality nutrition. More specifically unprocessed foods, such as fruits and vegetables. You don’t have to worry about pharmaceutical values or nutrition labels when buying blueberries and apples!
Vitamin supplements that work
For nutritional supplements, I still believe. But I’ll keep it simple. No mega dose with dozens of pills a day. Multivitamins and some fish oil supplements can be used. As my search for the best supplements continues, I will report my findings on my website. If you’re wondering if vitamin supplements are necessary, I’ve written more about them here: Are vitamin supplements necessary?