A problem in the UK is that as a nation we tend not to take supplements. We have the NHS, so if we have illness or pain, we go to the doctors and he or she prescribes medication to apparently make us better. A couple of pills a day for a fortnight and that is it, job done. However, to really know health and vitality, as the previous blog said, we do need addition to our food. It is very important that the food we eat needs to be of as high a quality as we can afford. Without a shadow of a doubt, the best form of nutrition comes in our food. However due to the use of chemical fertilisers, our food is no longer capable of fulfilling all our nutritional needs because the soil has been leached of nutrients. With any luck, we start to feel tired all the time, constantly catch colds and so on, and nothing the doctor prescribes seems to work.1 So then we start taking a multi-vitamin in the hope that this will help – and can easily end up spending much money on supplements in the hope that they will help. However, not all supplements are created equal and this blog is giving general guidance as to how to spot a good supplement. Probably the biggest tip is that it won’t be the cheapest one on the shelf, and, even more likely, it is not on the shelf of the local supermarket, even if that supermarket is a hypermarket.
The video clip addresses a method of supplying inorganic minerals such as zinc, magnesium or copper to the body using chelation. Chelation is a term that we hear if asking health food shop staff about their products. The word chelation is taken from the Greek word for ‘claw’ and means firmly attached. We can see near the start of the clip a molecular model with the mineral at the centre of 2 structures.
As Max Motyka says, some minerals are best taken when bound to 2 amino acids2 as opposed to a salt3 . This has various advantages; the supplement stays intact for longer, giving greater time for absorption; there are less problems with tolerance, for instance, iron sulphate can cause constipation; a salt chelation breaks up more quickly and so the mineral gets bound to any phytates in the food4 and excreted instead of absorbed. Finally a bundle of minerals taken together in salt form end up competing with each other, whereas if taken in amino acid chelation, with the longer absorption time, this battle does not take place. Albion, the company Max Motyka works for, does produce some very reliable products. If the multi on the shelf has a tiny star linking part of the multi to an Albion patent, then the chances are high that this is a good multi. Examples of terms indicating an amino acid chelation are glycinate, aspartate, glutamate or arginate.
However some minerals are better not bound to an amino acid – but to know all this is years of study. Rather it is a matter of looking for clear clues when reading the packet rather than just looking at the price tag and the puported health claims on the packet. We have to read the small print.
So seeing the words Albion Patent applied to some of the ingredients will be a good sign. Another thing to look out for are natural ingredients as opposed to synthetic. Vitamin E is a prime example. Vitamin E is a good supplement to take for things like women’s issues generally and it is an essential antioxidant if taking high levels of fish oils. But there is a big difference between synthetic and natural Vitamin E. Vitamin E comes in various forms, all called tocopherols and the ones we are looking for are a mix of gamma, beta, delta tocopherol. Man made E is called D-alpha tocopherol and it is this supplement that is very bad for health. Also for best uptake, minerals in particular are best taken in chelated form rather than completely pure. We never find pure zinc in nature, for example; the body would not recognise it and be unable to handle it. Essentially if the supplement has been decided on, then some research has to be done to make sure that the supplement is going to be uptaken, that it will not cause unfortunate side effects such as diaorrhea or nausea and that it will not cause damage.
So the form that a mineral comes in is very important when it comes to good uptake with no side effects. Then we have to look at heavy metal contamination or solvent contamination. For example fish oils; to merely read ‘purified’ on the bottle is meaningless. There are 2 terms to look for: molecularly distilled or made in Norway. Another very good supplement to take is greens drinks; these are dried and concentrated vegetables, so a very good way of bumping up vegetable intake when cooking a pile of cabbage is not always possible. There are real issues of heavy metal contamination with this type of supplement, plus the vegetables must be organic or we will be taking in concentrated pesticides too. If we want to take greens drinks as a supplement, research must be done on the product’s ingredients and manufacture. And the product will not be cheap.
So a good supplement will not fill us with contaminants and will have good uptake, known as bioavailability. To increase uptake, the majority of (but not all) supplements are best taken with food in the middle of a meal so everything gets muddled up together during the digestive process. And this digestive process itself is weakened by the poor nutritional quality of our food. To overcome this, there is currently much work being done on supplements, and indeed medicines, being applied in cream form. What we rub on our skin does get absorbed into our body (a point worth bearing in mind when slathering cosmetics,hair dye or suncream on ourselves) so if ways can be found to get the supplement or medicine into the body other than through the digestive tract, then the results will be much better.
So a good supplement will be clean, bioavailable, of the best chelation for that mineral or using natural vitamins and not synthetic alternatives. It will not be manufactured using the cheapest ingredients but manufactured for best uptake with minimum unwanted side effects. Good supplements such as these make feeling tired all the time a distant memory and should we catch a cold, it will be gone in 3 days. We become healthy, happy and vigorous, irrespective of age.
- I say with any luck since it is better to feel tired all the time with nothing much else wrong, than to feel tired all the time and the reason why is we have cancer or some other dreadful disease. It is much better to forestall disease. [↩]
- Amino acids are the component parts of proteins – ie when we eat a piece of meat or fish, it gets broken down into its constituent amino acids which the liver then sticks back together in different forms as needed [↩]
- By the term salt he means non-amino acid substances such as sulphate, coming from sulphuric acid; carbonate, coming from carbonic acid or citrate, coming from citric acid [↩]
- Phytates are in the bran of grains or in nuts unless these things have been soaked in water [↩]