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As alternative or holistic medicine becomes increasingly popular, the number of nutriceutical brands has increased dramatically. Nutriceuticals have become a 50 billion dollar a year industry. As a result of the increasing demand and potential profit to be made, numerous upstart companies are now vying for a piece of the pie. Indeed, a trip to the local health food store for a simple bottle of Vitamin C will leave most people overwhelmed and scratching their heads
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Over the years I've seen many ingredients in supplements that continue to surprise me. For example, food colorings of every imaginable type in multi-vitamins just to make the product look appealing. What is often worse however is the binders, fillers, and coatings that many companies use to make tablets retain their shape. At the very least, the majority of these ingredients slow or otherwise impair the absorption of the contained nutrient and at their worst they sometimes pass straight through you without breaking down at all. This means you can literally be flushing money down the drain. How does one know if a supplement is 'good' for them? Most labels report whether or not the supplement contains food colorings if you look closely enough. However, certain binders and fillers may or may not be reported on the ingredient label.

 


There is so much to know in the constantly changing nutriceutical world that it's no wonder the average person can so easily be confused or misguided. It's not only a matter of binders, fillers or artificial ingredients, there is also the matter of carrier types that make the nutrient available to your body. For example, it is now widely known that Calcium citrate will absorb far better than Calcium carbonate. The problem is Calcium citrate can be up to three times the cost (which is why most foods are 'fortified' with Calcium carbonate). The required knowledge base to make educated decisions regarding one supplement form over another is quite substantial. 

I use a variety of different brands and types of nutriceuticals in my office. I'm of the opinion that there is no such thing as a perfect brand with perfect products across the board. However, I do have my favorites and those that I trust implicitly in terms of quality control and content. The majority of these brands are 'physician use only' meaning you must have a medical license to order from them. The exception to this is a company I grew up with that started encapsulating products in the early '70's. That company is Nature's Sunshine and despite what anyone may say about their marketing strategies they make some of the best quality products at affordable prices. More can be learned about the company and their products here: Nature's Sunshine.