December 11, 2018
I’m a supplements head. When I was a teenager, my Dad–the high school biology teacher–would reach up into the cabinet and pull down a bottle of vitamin C so that I could pop one. “See, this is vitamin E, it’s fat-soluble,” he’d tell me, and I could see how the gelcap was different-looking from the vitamin C tablet.
Many moons later, I sit at my desk at work and receive boxes from manufacturers and marketers all the time. At Natural Products Expos, I spend all day trolling the supplements rows. I’m an inveterate pill-popper of the nutritional kind. I read nutrition science studies. I consume vitamin C pills like candy so that I can keep my circulating blood levels peaking.
When I look at supplements labels, I check out the dosage level of various ingredients, go to PubMed to see if the dosage matches up with that used in the published literature. I look to see if a supplement is using a branded ingredient, which tend to have specific studies on them and perhaps some intellectual property assigned to them. I look at excipients.
One of the first things I look at is whether a multi is using synthetic “dl-alpha-tocopherol” versus the natural “d-alpha-tocopherol”–that added “l” is difficult to see in that tiny print, but it is so important because the natural form is about twice as bioavailable.
Does a multi use methylcobalamin or cyanocobalamin? The methylated version is better absorbed and remains in the body at higher levels for a longer period.
Are there pixie dust quantities of hot ingredients? A classic example is the ol’ 5 mg CoQ10. The only reason to use such tiny doses is to dupe consumers, who might recognize the ingredient but not know any better about how much they should actually be taking.
Does a formula do something new and innovative? Does it use “whole-food” ingredients—and what does that mean, anyway? Is a fermented yeast consuming USP (synthetic) vitamins and minerals really what consumers think about when they think about a whole-food ingredient?
The march of supplement innovation continues apace. Here’s what I saw as the best of the best in dietary supplements for the year 2018—the ones that you should probably put up a special end cap so you can give your hemp products a run for your customers’ money.
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