Are All Supplements the Same?

What You Should Know about Choosing Dietary Supplements

Vitamins are nutrients that are necessary for sustaining life and health. With the exception of Vitamin B12, none of them are produced in our bodies; we are dependent on our diets for the important vitamins we need. If we do not consume sufficient amounts of these vital nutrients, our physical and mental health can be significantly compromised.

In addition, we rely on a variety of amino acids, fatty acids, and minerals to stay healthy and function at our best. While some of these are readily available in the foods we eat, others are more difficult to come by especially for those with a diet composed mainly of highly-refined convenience items and restaurant meals.

Increasingly, people are turning to nutritional supplements to ensure that they are getting all the nutrients they need in order to maintain good health. Dietary supplements are a billion-dollar industry; health conscious people shell out hundreds - even thousands - of dollars per year on multi-vitamins, heart health boosters, memory enhancers, and supplements for a multitude of other purposes.

Retailers of all types have been quick to get in on the action; there are hundreds of brands sold at discount stores, grocery chains, pharmacies, and fitness centers; vitamin shops have sprung up in every neighborhood. Health care practitioners with experience in diet and nutrition also make supplements available to their clientele.

With all of the choices available, how do we know which supplements to choose? Do they really work, and is there any difference between the various brands? How are supplements regulated, and is there any way to know if the product in the bottle conforms to the specifications on the label?

Dietary supplements for humans are distinguished by two different quality ratings: food grade and pharmaceutical grade. Food grade supplements are widely available and relatively inexpensive, whereas pharmaceutical grade supplements are available only through health care practitioners.

As you may expect, there is a great deal of difference between the two types; before you choose a supplement, you should understand what to expect from the product you decide to purchase.

Food Grade Supplements

The term "food grade" simply means that a product is fit for human consumption. Testing of over-the-counter supplements has revealed that the ingredients listed on the label often do not conform with what is actually in the bottle. Food grade supplements are frequently manufactured from the cheapest ingredients and combined with fillers, binding agents and dyes. Many of these supplements are not easily digested, and they end up passing out of the body before they can be absorbed.

Because over-the-counter vitamins are considerably less expensive than pharmaceutical grade supplements, they may seem like a better value; however, in many cases, these supplements are ineffective and do not conform to manufacturer's claims.

Pharmaceutical Grade Supplements

Pharmaceutical grade supplements are considerably more expensive than over-the-counter products, and must be obtained from a professional health care practitioner. However, in terms of quality and effectiveness, these supplements are more than worth the extra money spent.

Pharmaceutical grade dietary supplements are required to be 99% pure, with no fillers or other additives. They are tested to ensure that they are properly absorbed, and they are produced in FDA-approved facilities. These supplements are subject to third-party testing for quality and efficacy, and they are required to comply with U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) guidelines.

By using only pharmaceutical grade supplements, you are assured of getting the nutrients specified on the bottle and seeing real results. Your health is your greatest asset, and the money you spend on high-quality nutritional products is an investment in a healthy future.

Author's Bio: 

To receive free shipping on your next order of pharmaceutical grade supplements such as Xymogen and Designs for Health enter the discount code FREE at checkout. Valerie Balandra NP is a nurse practitioner that takes a naturopathic and functional medicine approach in her patient care. Valerie is available for telephone consultations by calling 941 371-7997.