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How To Get Quality Vitamin Supplements
by Mark Cammack September 14, 2019
Bad and Good Vitamin Company Labels: The parody vitamin label on the left is designed for emotional appeal and impulse buying. It discourages thinking about what the product actually is. The one to the right is far more trustworthy. They are proud of their quality and encourage the reading of the ingredient list. Understanding this can save you time, money, and make the difference in getting results.
"What do you think?," asked Max. We had been carrying on a conversation about life, making smart choices, exercise, and nutrition. He and his family lived half-way around the world. Max had come across a multi-pack vitamin supplement on the Internet. What follows is the answer that can help anyone who wants quality vitamins.
The item was marketed with a scientific sounding name and photos of athletic models. It makes one wonder what the business owners look like. Why aren't they using their own pictures if the product is so good? Claims included "no need to take other vitamin supplements" and that only one packet per day is required. Undefined terms such as high-level and advanced were used on the label, without stating why this is true. These practices are common, and I have seen questionable items come and go on the market for decades. Let's look at what does and does not make a quality vitamin supplement.
To save time and money, vitamins should be purchased on logic and never emotional appeal. If a company uses paid models, aggressive images such as gorillas or odd looking cartoon characters, or pseudo science terms, look elsewhere. Those are examples of product peddling and not being value driven. Quality counts and that originates with ingredients, processes, and persons.
A gym I went to as a youth was run by a fellow who enjoyed weight training and running. He mentioned placing 23rd in the New York Marathon one year, which he said was actually a decent showing considering the talent there. He also sold a few vitamins. These were a mix of tablets and capsules in individually sealed packets. The idea was to take one packet a day. It sounded convenient. It did not do so well in reality.
How does nature work, or more precisely how can we work best with nature? Normally we eat a minimum of three meals a day, and up to 4 to 6 smaller meals or healthy snacks per day when weight training. This keeps a balance of nutrients in our systems most of the time while stabilizing blood sugar. Our energy should be on an even keel without ups and downs. Some person's moods and abilities can go on roller coaster rides due to changes in this.
With the take all your vitamins with one meal approach, there can be a sharp rise in the nutrient levels in the blood stream. There are water and fat soluble vitamins. The water soluble ones tend to leave our bodies relatively quickly. Although not ideal, we may get by with fat soluble Vitamins A and E being taken one time a day. The B and C vitamins are generally water soluble. The Vitamin C in the ascorbyl palmitate form is an exception, as it is fat soluble.
I was introduced to timed release multi-vitamins by Dr. Carlin Venus. He was a helpful intelligent person who shared insights regarding exercise, health, and nutrition a long time ago. Protein every three hours was promoted by Vince Gironda. Both can be important. The answer for vitamins is to either take smaller amounts with each meal or use timed release versions.
What are the better forms of each vitamin? Let's go down the list.
Vitamin A is found as beta-carotene in carrots. This is a safer form and may be converted in the body as needed.
B vitamins are fairly standard except for the amounts. I remember products from Bob Hoffman, York Barbell founder, which had far lower amounts of B vitamins than many supplements do today. I felt good on them. We could see 1.5 to 5 mg (B-5) range tablets increasing over the years by various companies. The B-5's escalated to B-10's, B-25's, B-50's, B-100's, and even whopping B-150's. More is not always better unless a person needs it. For some a B-100 can be too much, for others a B-5 may not be enough. Everyone is unique.
Here are three common forms of B-12: cyanocobalamin, methylcobalamin, and hydroxocobalamin. The cyano variety has a cyanide group locked into the vitamin. The methyl type has a CH3 group, a carbon with three hydrogens, which some prefer. The more recent hydroxo form may help to lower peroxynitrite as mentioned by Dr. Martin Pall. This is of interest to those looking at chemical sensitivity (MCS) and chronic fatigue (CFS).
Vitamin C is most commonly seen in the ascorbic acid form. Modern humans have a broken biochemical pathway, called GULO, that prevents us from producing our own Vitamin C. The vitamin can be used up rapidly during times of stress, immune response, with removal of toxic chemicals or metals, exercise, and healing. There are non-acidic forms of C, including calcium and sodium ascorbate, and fat soluble ascorbyl palmitate. Dr. Linus Pauling promoted high dose Vitamin C, which may actually not be high dose at all but rather our needed amounts. My personal preferred daily amount is between 15 and 20 grams based on experience, with very rare peaks of up to 50 grams if needed. Vitamin C is often taken as a separate supplement due to the amounts desired.
Vitamin D is often in the D-3 form. For those taking extra, especially in winter months or climates with less sunlight, 1000 IU per capsule is commonly seen.
Vitamin E is often in "d" and "dl" alpha-tocopherol, and dry succinate forms. If a vitamin supplement has dl-alpha-tocopherol, the cheaper variety, the company has gone cheap. The fastest way to scan a vitamin label is to look for Vitamin E and artificial additives first. If it says d-alpha-tocopherol and is free of unneeded chemicals, keep reading the label. If it has dl-alpha-tocopherol, there is no need to continue. Look for another product. Vitamin E is also commonly taken in the form of a separate supplement between 400 IU and 1200 IU depending upon the person and needs. It is interesting that this antioxidant has a tendency to reduce or eliminate muscle soreness with exercise in trained persons. Some formulas have mixed tocopherols with gamma, delta, and beta varieties.
Minerals such as manganese and selenium can be overdone or underdone. When I was in a medical microbiology class during college, my energy was off and I began losing hair suddenly. The professor was an athlete who worked with NASA. She emphasized having quality nutrition in the body before exercising. She also spotted too much selenium in a new powdered vitamin-mineral supplement I was testing. Everything must be in balance.
A long time method of dealing with tendon soreness was to try manganese. I knew a fellow years ago who was already big and strong. He had worked out with weights and done automotive and farm work. He came by my gym and mentioned a nagging tendon issue in his thigh that was not healing after many weeks. I asked him,"Have you tried manganese?" "No," he replied. I gave him some free samples. About a week later, he told me his leg suddenly began getting better and had healed.
Iron is also individualized. Women tend to be more aware of iron in their diet and supplements than men. A traditional way of getting a little more iron in the diet was to use cast iron cookware for preparing meals. Think about this: If cast iron can give off iron, what does teflon, aluminum, nickel, and synthetically coated cookware put in our bodies?
Some things to avoid in vitamins are artificial colors such as FD&C Red or Blue, flavors and additives, talc, and aluminum compounds. Why would a product that should be natural have unneeded or artificial items in it? The best brands will never do this.
There are a few important factors for results with supplements: The vitamins need to be of high quality, contain the amounts listed on the label, not have contaminants, and be fresh and not oxidized or stale. Making sure to check the date of manufacture or expiration date is important.
There is no universal vitamin formula for everyone. We have to match the product with our individuality and needs. You may go through several types before finding out what works the best. What we can do is seek out quality vitamins first so that no time or money is wasted on the journey.
You may also enjoy reading How To Find A Good Guide For A Supplement Safari and Getting Your Money's Worth With Supplement Labels.
National Research Council (US) Subcommittee on Selenium. Selenium in Nutrition: Revised Edition. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1983. 7, Effects of Excess Selenium.
Stone, Irwin. The Healing Factor: "Vitamin C" Against Disease. New York: Grosset & Dunlap. 1972.
Bad and Good Vitamin Company Labels is © Copyright 2019 Mark Cammack. All rights reserved. It incorporates the following public domain works:
Blue Man Weightlifting: David Carroll
Image of a runner: Public domain vectors
© Copyright 2019 Mark Cammack. All rights reserved.