Vitamins that you buy at a “big box” store (CVS, Walgreens, grocery store, Costco/Sams/Wal-Mart) are the equivalent of mass-produced, unhealthy processed foods, filled with poor quality ingredients, additives, food coloring and preservatives. Here are my top 6 rules for choosing vitamins:

1) Check the forms of the vitamins: For vitamins to be effective, it is essential that the vitamin is in a form that can be best absorbed, recognized and utilized by the body. Here are some examples of best/worst forms of vitamins.

  • Vitamin B12Best: methylcobalamin (Methyl-B12), Worst: cyanocobalamin.
  • Vitamin A – Best: mixed carotenoids. Worst: beta-carotene.
  • Vitamin E – Best: d-Alpha Tocopherol or mixed tocopherols. Worst: dl-alpha tocopherol.
  • Vitamin D – Best: Cholecalciferol (D3). Worst: Ergocalciferol (D2)
  • Calcium – Best: MCHC, Calcium Citrate Malate, or Calcium Citrate. Worst: Calcium Carbonate.
  • Minerals – Best: minerals (calcium, magnesium, zinc, etc…) that end in glycinate or methionate (chelates) or citrate, lactate, malate, gluconate (organic acids). Worst: minerals that end in sodium, sulfate, carbonate, or chloride (salts), or those that end in oxide.

2) Check the added ingredients: Read the ingredients on your vitamins just like you read ingredients on your food labels. For example, Centrum contains FD&C Yellow No. 6, Aluminum Lake (heavy metal/food coloring), hydrogenated palm oil (trans-fats), modified food starch (which may contain MSG), talc (anti-caking agent), sucrose and maltodextrin (sugars).

3) Check for quality control: Look for the GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) seal or a statement that they follow GMP guidelines which affect the quality of the product. Look for companies that voluntarily have their products tested for purity by a 3rd Party such as USP, Consumer Lab, or NSF. Read more about 3rd party verification.

4) Get a nutritional test: Find out what vitamins you need. Have your levels checked with a test such as the Micronutrient which measures the nutrient levels inside your cells.

5) Invest in your health. If you are going to take vitamins, it is worth paying more to get the best quality. Centrum multivitamins run on average 10 cents per tablet. A pharmaceutical grade such as Xymogen Active Nutrients runs about 16 cents per capsule. Is your health worth the difference?

6) Strive to get your nutrients from wholesome food: Nutritional supplements can’t even come close to the enormous health benefit of eating fresh, whole foods. The majority of your diet should consist of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, wild caught seafood, organic chicken and grass-fed beef. Nutritional supplements should be used to supplement vitamin deficiencies and to assist with treatment of medical conditions.

7) Consult with an expert: Find a health practitioner who is knowledgable about nutrition, nutritional testing, and treating nutritional deficiencies.

Click here to read more blog posts about this topic including the top six supplements you should consider taking.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” ― Hippocrates

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