All Supplements are Not Created Equal

all supplements are not created equal

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am the supplement queen. 

So, I have learned this lesson the hard way: all supplements are not created equal.

When I first became infatuated with supplements, I made the erroneous assumption that they were all safe. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Some supplements are produced by the same organizations that pollute our foods and others are produced by well-meaning organizations that just do not know what they are doing. And finally, there are the supplements that are not only safe but life changing. Those are the ones we want.

In alphabetical order I’m going to share with you some of the best supplements on the market and how to find the version of that supplement that is the safest.

1. Astaxanthin – The best super food around!

This is the world’s strongest antioxidant. It is 6000 times more effective than vitamin C, 800 times more effective than CoQ10 and 550 times more effective than vitamin E and green tea. It gets itself into every cell of your body protecting the fat soluble AND water-soluble parts of your cells. It improves athletic performance, cures dry eye syndrome, and even helps boost male fertility.

But where it really shines is with cholesterol.  Astaxanthin improves lipid profiles by decreasing LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides and increasing HDL (good) cholesterol.

I have been using it for years and without it I would have dry eye syndrome and too much LDL. With it no dry eye syndrome, excellent HDL cholesterol and perfect triglycerides.

The best food source of Astaxanthin is salmon. Make sure it’s wild caught, as wild caught salmon has about five times the Astaxanthin that farm-raised salmon does. You can also find it in any pink colored seafood like lobster, crab, or shrimp. You just have to be careful with these fish in terms of where they are from.  In other words, avoid those from contaminated waters such as Fuqing China and Fukushima, Japan.  Buy pole-caught Albacore Tuna from the western US or Canada, wild-caught salmon from Alaska, and wild-caught Pacific Sardines.

If you are supplementing with astaxanthin it’s important to get a high-quality form of the supplement.  Many manufacturers use petro chemicals to make synthetic Astaxanthin, which is 20 times weaker than natural Astaxanthin.  It should have at least 10 mg of natural Astaxanthin.

Sports Research (SR) brand makes an excellent Astaxanthin. I like it particularly because it is in coconut oil instead of sunflower oil. It has 12 mg of natural Astaxanthin.

2. B Complex Vitamins

B complex vitamins are useful for those who already have a well-rounded diet but are looking to support energy levels and improve cognitive performance and mental health.

B vitamins are also very helpful when it comes to supporting healthy vascular function.
The following combination of B vitamins has been shown to be effective at reducing the high homocysteine levels which contribute to vascular disease:

B2– 25 milligrams
B6- 25 milligrams
B12- 500 micrograms
Folate- 800 micrograms
Trimethylglycine – (TMG) 1000 milligrams

I use Pure Therapy Rx Methyl B Complex because it is well-made, comes in the right combination of B vitamins and is very pure.
3. CoQ10

CoQ10 is an essential nutrient that works like an antioxidant in the body. In its active form it is called ubiquinone or ubiquinol. It is present in the body in the highest levels in the heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas. It is stored in the mitochondria of our cells and is often referred to as the powerhouse because of its involvement in energy production.

Dr. Carl Folgers and his colleagues at the Institute of Biomedical Research at the University of Texas found CoQ10 deficiency in the majority of people with heart disease.

Subsequent research revealed that after taking CoQ10, 58% of the patients improved. I’m in! The researchers also found that CoQ10 helps lower blood pressure.

Deficiencies in CoQ10 lead to chronic disease, high levels of oxidative stress, vitamin B deficiency’s, mitochondrial disease and the necessity of taking statin drugs. (Don’t even get me started on those.)

The other absolutely fabulous thing about CoQ10 it that it has almost no negative side effects. Medications for cardiovascular disease have such side effects as fatigue, nausea, and dizziness.

CoQ10 has the power to:

  • Maintain Heart Health
  • Boost Energy
  • Enhance Immunity
  • Support Muscle and Bone Strength
  • Regulate Blood Sugar
  • Enhance Blood Flow & Protect Blood Vessels
  • Protect Cells from Free Radicals
  • Maintain Brain Health

Make sure you get a pure version.  Many supplements contain ineffective and potentially harmful additives, such as artificial fillers and colors. Binders, including magnesium stearate, chromium, and silicon dioxide, are other infamous additives to avoid.

Look for the following:

  • Clinically proven potency levels.  In clinical studies, the amount of CoQ10 proven to be effective ranges between 100-200 mg per serving
  • Delivered in gel caps. Our bodies can’t easily absorb tablets composed of powdered CoQ10, so try finding a supplement that delivers your coenzyme inside gel capsules
  • Guarantees. You need time to try any product, especially CoQ10. A company that’s confident in its CoQ10 will offer, at minimum, a 100% 45-day product guarantee. 
  • Get the right form.  There are two forms of CoQ10 ubiquinol and ubiquinone. Researchers have found that ubiquinone is the safer and more clinically studied choice.

 I like CoQ10 by Essential Elements.

 4. Omega 3s

Omega 3s are made up of linolenic, eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acids.

Omega 3s play a central role in protecting the cardiovascular system by calming irregular heart rhythms, lowering blood pressure, and lowering triglyceride levels.

The American Journal of clinical nutrition shows that fish oil lowers triglyceride levels. Finally, omega-3 fatty acids also protect against stroke by preventing the formation of sticky blood clots. The moral of the story is eat fresh fish 2 to 3 times per week and take 3 to 5 g of omega-3 fish oil daily.

I don’t think you can go wrong with fermented cod liver oil and krill oil. I use both. I get Antarctic Krill oil from Sports Research (SR) and Fermented Cod Liver Oil from Blue Ice by Green Pasture, Inc.

5. Vitamin C

Although vitamin C earned a reputation as a preventative for colds 70 years ago, it has a lot more to offer. Vitamin C does the following:

1. Fights free radicals
2. Helps form collagen
3. Supports the immune system
4. Aids in the production of amino acids that regulate the nervous system
5. Helps break down histamines, which cause inflammation and allergic reactions

Most important of all: It helps you fight off COVID-19 (See my article on supplements used to fight the virus.)

The best vitamin C comes from the Kakadu Plum and from Camu Camu. If you purchase over-the-counter vitamin C in the United States, you are probably getting a vitamin C that was derived from genetically engineered corn, so just don’t.

You can get the Camu Camu by Sunfood from Whole Foods but you have to order the Kakadu Plum from Bushfood by Neely in Australia. It’s expensive but it is worth it. A 100-gram serving of Kakadu plums provides around 1,240 milligrams of vitamin C (that’s more than 20 times the amount of vitamin C found in an orange). [1]

6. Vitamin E

Getting the right type of vitamin E for heart power is critical, especially when you consider that most of the vitamin E in the United States is not in a natural form. It is in a synthetic form that’s only half as biologically active as natural alpha tocopherol.

But the worst part is that this Frankensteinian version of vitamin E is that it is often times made from genetically modified vegetables like corn and soy.

There are actually eight different types of vitamin E and if you only take the one found in most vitamin E supplements, alpha tocopherol, it can keep you from absorbing the ones you really need which are the tocotrienols.

The tocotrienols give vitamin E it’s antioxidant punch. One study shows that tocotrienols increase antioxidant strength by 300%. They also protect the heart and lower CRP (C- Reactive Protein) which is a marker for vascular disease.

Tocotrienols fight prostrate, breast and pancreatic cancer and cause lymphoma cells to commit suicide while protecting normal cells. They also help lower your triglycerides and your blood pressure.

The trick to getting all the benefits of vitamin E is to get it as close as possible to the form nature intended. There are two ways to do this. The first is to eat plenty of nuts, eggs and dark leafy green vegetables. 

The second way is to look for full spectrum tocotrienol complex E supplements. Nature City makes a good one.

What to Avoid

There are some really nasty ingredients in the majority of supplements sold in the U.S. In a nutshell these are the ones you really want to avoid in your supplements:

  1. Artificial colorants such as FD&C Blue, Green, Red, and Yellow and are approved by the FDA but should be avoided as some have been shown to be carcinogenic. They are particularly notable in children’s vitamins.
  2. Titanium Dioxide which is often used as a colorant to give supplements and cosmetics a clean, white appearance.
  3. BHT – (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) is a preservative used in a range of products to improve the shelf-life of fat-based products. It has been linked to liver toxicity and some forms of cancer.
  4. Magnesium Silicate – used as an anti-caking agent in powder supplements including baby powder. Studies have linked it to stomach cancer and lung inflammation.
  5. Magnesium Stearate / Stearic Acid – used as a coating for tablets. Controversy surrounds this particular additive mostly due to an old study that suggested its potential to negatively affect our immune systems, but recent studies and reviews claim no adverse health effects. However, controversy continues to surround the use of magnesium stearate because the stearic acid used to make the preservatives is sometimes taken from cottonseed, canola or palm oil. The majority of cottonseed and canola oil are sourced from GM crops, and palm oil is highly unsustainable.
  6. Sodium Benzoate – be aware of anything containing Sodium Benzoate as it has been linked to various cancers. It forms benzene if it’s taken with ascorbic acid and has the potential to damage cells and DNA.

Supplements have improved my health in ways I cannot describe. They can be lifesaving. But they can also be harmful and/or a waste of money. Price alone is not an indicator of quality! Be sure you do not always opt for the cheapest or the most expensive. Do your homework. Find a trusted source. Purchase only supplements that meet the highest purity and safety standards. Know specifically what you are looking for when you buy a supplement. Target the supplement to a need you have and make sure it is safe. Then and only then will you be getting the biggest bang for your supplement buck!

Do you need help navigating the world of supplements, nutrition and overall physical and mental wellness? Reach out to Norton Wellness Institute at 513 205 6543 and learn the many ways we can help you live well!

[1] Heal With Food, Kakadu Plum: Health Benefits Beyond Vitamin C Supply

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Materials contained on this site are made available solely for educational purposes and as part of an effort to raise general awareness of the psychological treatments available to individuals with health issues. These materials are not intended to be, and are not a substitute for, direct professional medical or psychological care based on your individual condition and circumstances.  Dr. J. Renae Norton does not diagnose or treat medical conditions. While this site may contain descriptions of pharmacological, psychiatric and psychological treatments, such descriptions and any related materials should not be used to diagnose or treat a mental health problem without consulting a qualified mental health care provider.  You are advised to consult your medical health provider about your personal questions or concerns.