As you may have already experienced, figuring out how to choose a good quality vitamin and mineral supplement can be a confusing and time consuming task.
The purpose of this article is to look at several important factors that you should consider when looking for a good quality vitamin and mineral supplement and to provide you with resources where you can learn more.
CONSIDERATION #1: ABSORPTION
Here is one of the first questions you should keep in mind:
Will the ingredients in the vitamin and mineral supplement you are considering actually be absorbed by your body?
There are many steps that the ingredients in your vitamin and mineral supplement (referred to as supplement from now on) have to go through in order to make it all the way through your digestive tract, into your blood stream and ultimately to the location where your body can use them.
It’s a complex process and there are many opportunities in10sityfitnessunited for the process to not go quite right and prevent your supplement ingredients from getting to where they are supposed to. Let’s look at some factors that can affect the journey your supplement takes and also affect how well your body can absorb a supplement’s ingredients.
WHAT IS BIOAVAILABILITY?
Bioavailability is the degree to which a nutrient is available to the body for use. More specifically, for a nutrient to be bioavailable it must be within physical proximity to the cell so the cell can use it. Also, for a nutrient to be bioavailable it has to be dissolved in some sort of solution so that the nutrient can be transported across the cell membrane.
From a non biochemistry perspective, here’s a simple way to picture what needs to happen; the nutrient has to make it all the way from your mouth to the cell and be in a form the cell can use.
For bioavailability to occur, certain things have to happen once you put that supplement into your mouth. Here are two of those processes. One is dissolution which refers to how fast a supplement dissolves. An example to help you picture this process would be taking some sugar, putting it in a glass of water and stirring it with a spoon until the sugar disappears.
Another process is disintegration. This is similar to dissolution only disintegration refers to how fast the capsule or tablet breaks into smaller pieces so that the dissolution process can take place.
HOW TO TELL IF YOUR SUPPLEMENT WILL DISSOLVE
So how in the world are you going to be able to tell if the supplement you are considering does all this dissolution and disintegration stuff? Fortunately, it’s pretty straight forward to figure out. A good way to know that your supplement is meeting these standards is to make sure there is some sort of “USP” designation on the label of the product.
USP refers to U.S. Pharmacopeia, an organization that was established to create state-of-the-art standards to ensure the quality of medicines that humans use. This includes vitamin and mineral supplements.
An example of the kind of USP designation that you want to look for on the label of a product you are considering would be something like, “this product conforms to the USPXXVII requirements for disintegration and dissolution”.