Bioavailability: All Supplements Are Not Created Equal

What You Should Know About Nutraceutical Bioavailability When Shopping For Supplements

Hand holding multiple supplements

Think those supplements you take everyday are good for you? Have you ever considered how you know for sure? Our handy guide will help you weed through the hype so you know what you’re taking is safe, worth the money spent, but most of all bioavailable.

What’s With All Of The Hype?

Advertising can be quite convincing. Take this pill and you’ll be a pro in the sack for 80 hours straight. Drink this juice and it will cure all that woes you. Sometimes when we think we’ve heard it all, the companies who we’d assume are looking out for our best interests even jump on the advertising bandwagon- this includes many supplement manufacturers. But, not all dietary supplements are created equal. Sometimes companies have million dollar campaigns while their ingredients aren’t worth five dollars and more often than not, the ones that may be your best option health and money-wise are the ones we hear little about in the mainstream. If you’re going to make the effort to take supplements, you’ll need a checklist to help you troubleshoot what to look for.

Ask These Questions About Supplement Bioavailability

1. Place of purchase. Starting with where you buy is going to be a tell-tale sign of quality. Sadly, most popular drug-stores and big-chain stores don’t carry what you want. Remember, making claims about specific nutrients is different than making claims about quality. National brands can claim that vitamin A and lutein are great for eye health or that calcium helps prevent osteoporosis, because it’s true- they just fail to mention that the calcium contained in most popular brands is akin to the quality of calcium used to make sidewalk chalk!

  • Online: If you prefer the internet for your shopping needs, choose to shop at outlets that offer quality verification.
  • In stores: As a general rule, choose to make purchases at sellers dedicated to supplements. These retailers often carry maintenance and therapeutic formulations you won’t find in most drugstores.

2. Avoid unnecessary additives to increase bioavailability. Even some higher quality supplements still contain excipients, binders, fillers, coloring and flavoring agents. Some good, some not so much. These additives increase shelf life by preventing pill breakdown and save manufacturers money but do little to help you absorb nutrients. In many cases, not only do they decrease overall absorption, but they can cause intestinal distress.

Tip: You can avoid most of these additives by choosing plant-based nutraceuticals. Look for those that are as close as possible to the whole food form. While this is not always possible, it does help increase the amount of nutritional or medicinal value you’re able to absorb without the body having to deal with as much waste. Stay away from magnesium stearate, silicon and titanium dioxide, silica gels and any synthetic dyes.

3. Does the supplement company use independent, third party labs that verify the raw materials for contaminants and correct dosage? Dosages are determined based on clinical trials and then later verified randomly and independently by third parties that have no bias. Correct dosage ensures you’re absorbing the amount that is therapeutically prescribed.

4. Do clinical trials exist to support the claims being made by the company? If company X claims it’s going to regrow your hair in 30 days, but has no trials to back up its absorbability, would you take it? An easy internet search can clear this up for you.

5. Does the label contain helpful information? Good Manufacturing Processes certifications aren’t always enough. Even supplements with additives can get this approval. Look to the label for:

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