Vitamins — Are We Getting Our Money’$ Worth?

by THOMAS on Jan 27, 2015 • 10:20 am

With sales of nutritional supplements at an all time high, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the public is concerned about the potential lack of nutrients in the food supply. Nutritional supplements are being sold virtually everywhere and it boggles the mind to see the vast array of supplements lining the shelves of our grocery stores, drug stores, and even our convenience stores. But do we really know what is in these nutritional supplements and how do we justify the prices we are paying?


Just as we need to know what is in the food we eat, we need to be equally aware of what is in the nutritional supplements we are taking. It is not enough to simply look at the label for % of RDA or the quantity of milligrams; we really need to know what form the particular nutrients are in as this will determine the effective absorption or “bioavailability” of that nutrient. Let’s take calcium for example. Calcium is available in several forms but by far the most common form is calcium carbonate. In addition there is calcium citrate, calcium citrate- malate, aspartate, gluconate and there are others. Calcium carbonate is absorbed at 10%, citrate around 50-60%, and the others around 70-80%. The problem with calcium is that it is considered a valuable nutrient by the body so even if it is not absorbed; it will not be released or excreted from the body. Instead the body will find a place to store excess calcium and that is where the problem arises because the usual choices are the kidneys, bladder, gallbladder, liver, and joints in the spine and extremities. As this calcium begins to accumulate, there is an increasing likelihood for health complications down the road. So it is important for the consumer to know what source and form the various nutrients are in so that they can benefit from maximum absorption and avoid potential health consequences down the road. This holds true for both vitamins and minerals.


The dilemma here is that the more highly absorbable nutrients are also more expensive to produce and this is what will have a tendency to increase the cost of nutritional supplements. This is where an individual needs to find a knowledgeable practitioner who is familiar with the many lines of nutritional supplements available and which ones are the “biggest bang for the buck”. When it comes to nutritional supplements, buyers need to beware of shopping for price when cheap prices often means that you will not be getting the most absorbable nutrients. What will you be saving then?


If you would like more information regarding this topic, please feel free to call the clinic.


Be well


Dr. T