Evaluating Nutritional Products
Today, supplementation is an integral part of an overall wellness lifestyle. As a result, the marketplace is filling up with a bewildering array of supplements for consumers to choose. You need to be able to measure how products stack up to one another.
Below are just some of the key questions we ask about any nutritional product as we consider to use it. Use this as a checklist of points to consider when evaluating products. If a company doesnít have satisfactory answers to these questions, you can bet that they are not a dependable source.
1. Does the Product Offer a Balanced Nutritional Profile?
Some products contain many times the Daily Value (DV) of some nutrients, yet very little of others. If such apparent imbalances arenít clearly explained, it may be because a sound nutritional rationale is lacking.
Skimping on the Bís Youíve probably seen multis that feature upwards of 2000% of the DV for B vitamins like thiamine and riboflavin, yet offer little or none of the B vitamin biotin. Some companies often skimp on biotin because it is one of the more expensive nutrients. The fact is that all of the B vitamins belong to a group of nutrients that help the body release energy from food and metabolize fuel. They work best when they work together.
Missing Minerals Some multis on the market simply donít offer important trace minerals like selenium, chromium, manganese or boron. Even more common are the ďnearly missingĒ minerals. A multi may claim to be complete, but minerals like calcium and magnesium often fall far short of their 1000 mg and 400 mg respective DVs. So, when examining a product, donít forget the trace minerals and do a double check for potency of minerals like calcium and magnesium.
2. Do Ingredients Add Value or Hot Air?
In evaluating a productís nutrient profile, itís not just a matter of counting up nutrientsóthe ingredients themselves have to count. If the rationale for including an ingredient in a product doesnít hold up to scrutiny, that ingredient may simply serve to inflate the numbers and the cost. Low Potency Extras Certain ingredients may be in amounts too low to be of real value. For example, the 10-20 mg of potassium touted in some multis amounts to only a fraction of the 3500 mg Daily Value. Similarly, 50 mg of ďfiber complex,Ē the actual amount in some multis, adds up to only 1/500 of the minimum fiber intake recommended daily. Digestive enzymes are another example. When taken in sufficient doses and in the right forms, certain digestive enzyme preparations may help the body digest food. But the potency of enzymes in a multi is usually minimal and is unnecessary to absorb the vitamins and minerals the multi contains.
Unproven Extras Beware of ingredients that have no proven benefit. Glutathione is a good example. Glutathione is part of a natural antioxidant enzyme in the body called glu-tathione peroxidase which plays a role in protecting the bodyís cells from free-radical damage. But unlike antioxidant nutrients such as vitamins C and E, glutathione is not an essential nutrient. Instead, the body easily produces it from amino acid building blocks. Moreover, there is no published clinical research suggesting that the minute levels of glutathione con-tained in a multi are beneficial to your health.
3. Are the Product Ingredients as Natural as Possible and in Harmony With Good Health?
It is important that you find products that have no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives added, and use natural source ingredients wherever possible. Also that the company has a philosophy that is backed up in writing. Also, keep a sharp eye out for products where ingredients are used inappropriately or unsafely. For example, there are a number of products on the market today that combine caffeine and the herb Ma Huang to artificially rev-up the nervous system in an ill-advised and potentially dangerous attempt to promote weight loss.
4. Are the Product Claims Really Believable?
Miracle nutrients are few. And products that promise effortless weight loss or claim to cure a myriad of diseases and conditions are most likely the result of some marketing scheme, not solid science. If your gut feeling is that something sounds too good to be true, youíre probably right. Be sure there are claims backed up by published clinical research, a list of which is in print.
5. Is the Product Backed by Laboratory Testing and Clinical Research?
Some companies claim their nutrients are absorbed better or that they use revolutionary manufacturing methods. Still others claim their products are proven by research. In response to all these claims, ask for proof. But donít be too surprised if nothing ever materializes. If you find that you are reading product test-monials instead of peer-reviewed, published clinical research, chances are the product you are evaluating never was tested. Be sure the company works very closely with a Scientific Advisory Board who are actively in-volved in conducting clinical research.
6. Who Designs and Manufactures The Products?
Many companies simply buy generic formulas and then slap on their own private labels. They donít design their products. They donít test them. They donít make them. And they donít know whether they work or not. Be sure the manufacturer works on the products from start to finish. They must know firsthand each ingredient that goes into their products, how each product is made and how they work. And throughout their manufacturing process ensure that each finished product meets tough quality standards.