We all try to get as many nutrients as possible from the food we eat and hope we meet the recommended daily intake of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. But sometimes, we fall short and need a way to supplement our healthy efforts. That is where vitamins can play an important role.
There’s really no way to know how much of a nutrient we are actually consuming through food. Growing conditions, freshness and cooking time all play a part in nutrition loss in food. In some categories of nutrients, our body can produce what it’s not getting through food, but other times this deficiency can result in loss of energy, digestive issues and disease.
Simply taking a multivitamin isn’t so easy. There are so many choices and most are specialized according to sex, age group, pill form and dosage. There are also many herbs, minerals and other nutrients that can be relied upon for common ailments, just the same as over the counter medication. Talking to your doctor is an important part of deciding what vitamins you need, and once you’ve narrowed it down, FRESH’s Health & Wellness department has a variety of choices.
Another concern with vitamins is absorption. If you’re taking fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E or K, they should be taken with a food or beverage that contains fat. Or you can take that vitamin in gel cap form because the nutrient pre-dissolved in oil and encased in the gel. Another thing that can increase absorption is peppers. You’ll see some supplements adding an ingredient called BioPerine. This is a compound found in black pepper. The heat from peppers stimulates metabolism and increases absorption. You could also eat something spicy or with hot pepper sauce immediately after taking vitamins for the same effect.
Depending on the vitamin, mineral or nutrient and its original state – solid, powder, liquid or oil – there are certain forms that best preserve the contents, increase the shelf life and rate of absorption.
Below are some tips and categories to consider when choosing what is right for you:
- Tablets/Capsules: Tablets are often large and dense and sometimes not likely to absorb well. They also contain fillers or additives to make the vitamins into a concealed tablet. Capsules dissolve more readily and can be more reliable at achieving the desired rate of absorption.
- Chewable/Gummies: A quick and convenient form for those with concerns about swallowing pills and/or flavor. Because color, flavoring, sugar and other ingredients need to be added to help keep the gummy texture, there is minimal nutrient content. This is why multiple gummies are necessary to consume to achieve higher milligrams of vitamins.
- Sublingual: These vitamins are quick dissolve tablets that easily dissolve under the tongue. They are highly effective and bypass the digestive system to achieve absorption. Another benefit is less additives or fillers are used as traditional tablets.
- Dissolvable/Liquid/Gel: Powdered supplements and vitamins meant to dissolve in water and consumed by drinking. Also, liquid vitamins that can be mixed with water or taken straight from the vial or bottle. All forms are highly absorbable, but not always flavorful.
- Herbs/Nutrients: Some other products to consider are herbs or nutrients that can be used to treat common ailments or health concerns. Things like Melatonin for sleep aid, Turmeric for anti-inflammatory and arthritis pain, Fish Oils for cholesterol control, Elderberry for immunity, Biotin for nails and hair or Collagen for skin. These are supplements that should be researched before taking and also consult your doctor and/or pharmacist for proper dosage and possible interactions with other medication.