Considerations when buying supplements

The market is currently saturated with health products claiming to heal almost every condition under the sun! Navigating such a maze can often be a very taxing task and at best should be left to the expertise of a licensed professional in the field (eg. Naturopath, holistic nutritionist, botanical medicine doctor or an orthomolecular practitioner).

However, as a basic guide and a glimpse of the importance of this matter, here are some hints:

Herbs:Herbs are the one area that require the most scrutiny when it comes to their use for therapeutic purposes. Herbs, in their chemical composition, are not very different from drugs and as such they can both be very effective in the right dose and make or toxic or

Clockwise from top left: Inspecting drying calendula flowers; Grinding fresh Echinacea flower & leaf; Chromatograph of St. John's Wort's active compounds; St. John's Wort flower

ineffective with the wrong dose and make. To gain the most benefit from a herb therefore requires great knowledge with regards to their active constituents and their methods of extraction. Depending on the ailment being treated, the specific species of a herb, the method of extraction of its constituents, as well as the form it is taken in, differs! For example, a commonly used herb for a number of conditions including hair loss, benign prostatic hyperplasia and acne -among others- is Saw Palmetto. This herb comes in a variety of forms including dry herb as tea, alcoholic extract as tincture, and various companies encapsulate this herb and sell it in bottles all with the same label of “Saw Palmetto”. Although for the general consumer the dry herb looks as good as the tincture or the capsule and the only considerations may be personal preference of consumption, for a botanical medicine expert however, there is only one form that would have the greatest therapeutic results! This is because the active chemical component in Saw Palmetto responsible for its health benefits is best extracted by a certain method (in oil preparations and not alcohol as most herbs are) and needs to be present in a specific percentage (standardized to 85% fatty acids) for it to have its therapeutic benefits! Plus it is usually not common knowledge that for best absorption it must be taken with a meal –preferably one with good fats!

MediHerb is one such company; from raw material sourcing, manufacturing and quality assurance under pharmaceutical standards, they produce the highest quality herbal supplements in the industry.

Minerals: minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium come in a number of different forms. They are usually bound to an acid or an amino acid and depending on each individual’s digestive system, one form may be better absorbed that the other. Eg. Calcium usually comes attached to citric acid as Calcium citrate and it is best absorbed in this form while Iron is best absorbed in its chelate form as iron bis-glycinate. There are also factors such as specific meals and other supplements taken along with mineral supplements that can either assist or hinder their absorption and this differs for each mineral!

Vitamins: Vitamins for the most part are well absorbed. The forms they come in however differ based on their use in the body. Some companies utilize the ‘inactive’ form of the vitamin and others use the ‘active’ form in their products. What this means is that the ones that are in their active form can be immediately utilized by the body for their many functions whereas the ones that are in their ‘inactive’ form need to go through a number of chemical reactions in the body to turn into their ‘active’ form. Again, depending on each individual and the vitamin supplementation required, one or the other of these forms would be most effective.


Best Vitamin and Mineral supplements are manufactured by the following companies: Genestra (Seroyal), Thorn and Metagenics ensure professional-strength products through research and development in combination with heavy investment and commitment to stringent quality assurance. Their nutritional supplements and formulas are scientifically formulated based on proprietary and published studies providing superior product quality, potency, and purity!

Considerations When Buying Supplements II discusses the different routes of administration [tablet vs. capsule vs. sublingual/chewable vs. liquid vs. intramuscular injection, etc.] of neutraceuticals and botanicals!

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About Negin

Graduate of natropathic Medicine based in London, Ontario
Gallery | This entry was posted in General Health, Supplementation and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Considerations when buying supplements

  1. I am so happy to read this. This is the kind of info that needs to be given and not the random misinformation that is at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this greatest doc.

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