Choosing the right supplements form

While some supplements are more effectively absorbed when taken as a powder diluted in water, if you suffer a sensitive digestive system, this fast assimilation may upset it. So it’s vitally important to notice and respond to your body’s reactions to supplements.

If you’re on the sensitive side, you may find that taking tablets upsets your stomach less. In light of this, it’s always good to seek the advice of a health practitioner such as a naturopath or other holistic specialist, even if you head to your local healthfood store and ask questions of the naturopath who runs the dispensary there.

When choosing any vitamin or mineral supplement, make sure you read the labels so you’re not doubling up on a nutrient you’re already taking (in which case you will risk overdosing). Also, factor in any fortification of foods, such as cereals and breads.

It’s also beneficial to conduct a little research on credible sites on the internet to learn about different forms of the vitamin. For example, the natural form of vitamin E called d-alpha-tocopherol is generally now thought to be better absorbed and used in the body than the synthetic form, which has only a subtle difference in name: dl-alpha-tocopherol.

What about the form of the tablet? Though soft capsules are obviously not an option if you are vegetarian, there are now some capsules being made from vegetable cellulose instead of gelatine. Studies don’t show any substantial difference between the level of absorption between tablets and capsules. However, powder forms of vitamins such as C or minerals such as magnesium or zinc are more rapidly and readily absorbed in soluble form.

With some supplements, such as minerals, many health practitioners believe it’s worth paying the little extra for them in a chelated form, which means the substance is bound to amino acids and so is more readily absorbed by the body. When reading labels, this means you look for amino acid chelates and citrates rather than varieties where the compound is available as carbonates and oxides.

Where possible, choose supplement varieties that have minimal amounts of binders and fillers and are free of lactose, gluten, yeast, different forms of sugars, soy, cornstarch and preservatives. This is particularly important if you are affected by allergy or food sensitivities or need to be vigilant about health issues such as candida.
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