PART IV: Junk Food Vitamins and Choosing the Right Form for You
Supplements, just like people, come in all shapes and sizes, but not all are created equal. We have liquids, gels, capsules, powders, drops, chocolate bars, gummies, drinks, injections…. Beginning to sound like the auction house huh. There are so many ways that companies have decided to make supplements, many for increasing their function, but some for just increasing their attraction to the consumer. So now that we are all empowered supplement purchasers, we are going to sift through the types of supplements and which form is the best for you.
Are These Really Good for You?
I’d suggest disregarding any supplement that comes in the form of any popular drink, candy, chocolate, cereal or food product. These products are most likely made with synthetic junk vitamins and minerals that are ineffective and in some cases harmful to the body. I refer to them as junk food vitamins.
One way the industry uses nutrients in their products is through fortification. This is the process of replacing the nutrients that are stripped from the food when the product was manufactured. The problem is that they replace them with synthetic nutrients that do not function the same way as nutrients that naturally occur in food do. Many times these forms of vitamins can actually be harmful to body as well, as in the case of iron, because they can accumulate in the body therefore disrupting normal functioning. Fortification of processed foods is a standard in the food industry; therefore I always suggest not consuming any manufactured food including unsprouted wheat products (bread, crackers, bagels etc).
The second issue is that companies love to add nutrients into unhealthy food, drinks and products as a marketing tactic to increase sales. The companies know that we are “trying” to be healthy and therefore nutritional claims are highly profitable. Therefore, we must use our brain and not be tricked into thinking that any processed, sugary or refined food is healthy, even if it claims to have vitamins and minerals. Remember when Coke was made with vitamins? Yep, that didn’t make much sense. If you want the benefits of healthy foods then you’re going to have to eat healthy, unprocessed foods. Plain and Simple.
Finally we are confronted with the full line of convenient vitamin products that masquerade as a supplement, but really are also junk. This includes: Gatorade, Pedialyte, Vitamin Water, Gummy Vites, Viactiv, Ensure, Airborne, and Emergen- C. All of these sources are not only made from synthetic vitamins but they also contain other harmful ingredients such as sugar, preservatives, artificial flavors, colors and chemicals that can be quite detrimental to your health. So please do not rely on these junk food supplements, you’re better than that 🙂
What Supplements are Best Then?
This leaves us with the whole-food supplements that pretty much only come in vegetable capsules, whole-food powders, and liquids. But remember, we are holding these forms to the same standards as well: must be from a live-source (meaning the label reads as a vegetable, herb, spice etc.) and must not contain additives, chemicals, or preservatives. Each one is a quality way to receive nutrition, but which one is best for you depends on your lifestyle, digestive system and state of health.
If you have poor digestion or are dealing with a chronic disease or cancer…
Powder or liquid form might be the best choice for you to start off with. These forms are highly bio-available, meaning that they are easy to process by the body. The body has to break down the nutrients through digestive processes before the cells can utilize the nutrients, but if the nutrients are in powder or liquid form, the digestive system has a much easier job. Furthermore, some companies like Sunwarrior and Premier Research Labs ferment their nutrients making them extremely available to the body, because the little good bugs have already done the digesting for you. So look for fermented nutrients, low-heated powders and fermented liquids like the ones by Premier Research Labs and Quantum Nutrition Labs.
One thing to note is that some capsule formulas contain probiotics or enzymes, which make them easier to digest, so these could be a possible option as well. And remember, you can always open capsules into food or a smoothie, which is a great technique I use with kids and animals.
Note: There will be times when you need to use a capsule form of nutrients such as with enzymes since not all nutrients come in the form of powders or liquids. In these cases they can still be very effective.
Are all Powders Created Equal?
Many powders, especially protein powders, are highly heated. This damages the nutrients making them less effective. Therefore, if you are going to make the effort and spend the money, make sure you find a quality source that advertises their nutrients as raw, sprouted, or not highly heated. Once again, calling is always an option.
If you do not have any major digestive issues or do not have a problem swallowing capsules, then capsules will be right for you. Easy to take, convenient and fast.
Vegetable capsules with no additives, binders, glues and excipients are the best choice when choosing this method of supplementation. I will say that from personally experience, if you are on a large supplement program, sometimes it is a good idea to take a break once and awhile. This gives the gut time to relax and recharge, so that you can gain back the digestive fire needed to break down large quantities of capsules. Typically 4 -7 days off every 6 weeks is a good idea.
What I Like to Do
I personally like to mix up my routine. I do a superfood shake in the morning that has a good amount of my daily supplements in powder form, then a take a few supplements in capsule form and make sure to eat and drink my nutrients as well. I have come to a point in my health practice that I like utilizing both powder and capsule form, and fortunately my digestive system is strong enough to do so. But remember, you must always listen to your body, we are all different and there is no one best answer.
If you haven’t had a chance to check out the earlier posts to this series, you can find them here:
Also don’t forget to check out my favorite supplements on the THK Awards Page.