How to Choose Your Vitamin Tablets

In the first part of this article we looked at Why we should take Vitamins and other nutrients in addition to our meals. Next we dig into some of the details of what vitamin and mineral tablets to take.

Once you get the buzz of being able to raise the level of your health by using vitamin and other nutrient tablets you face several questions about how much to take and are some types of supplements better than others?

Other questions too and the aim in this article is to cover as many of the questions as I can think of and answer others my readers want covered in the Comments section below.

Let's start with vitamin C.

Vitamin C strengthens the collagen found throughout the body. It is a long chain of protein that gives strength to your skin, bones and other tissues such as ligaments, fingernails and cartilage.

If we eat a really poor diet the amount of vitamin C we get may be below what we need for normal health and our skin, gums and bones get weaker.

As a result we may get bruising, bleeding and if this goes on long enough – death.

This vitamin C deficiency disease is called scurvy and history tells us that sailors, prisoners and others in institutions often suffered scurvy due to their poor diet.

But it's not just in history that we find people suffering from scurvy!

Patients in hospitals often get scurvy due to the hospital food being, well, junk food rather than what we would hope for from a hospital – healthy food, healing food.

We might expect that experts in the hospitals would fix this appalling situation but they rarely do.

The dietitians working in the hospital don't control the food the patients get – the hospital managers do that!

The dietitians may even make excuses for the appalling food causing the scurvy.

In fact I just noticed this question on the Facebook page of Dr Garth Davis, "Did you know that registered dietitians can earn continuing professional education credits by taking courses given by Coca-Cola, Hershey, and Nestlé?"

I did not – but I must say that I am not surprised!

Schoolkids too have been found in major surveys in the UK and I expect the US as well, to be eating a junk food diet and suffering scurvy as a result.

We know what causes scurvy – it is a lack of vitamin C or you could say the lack of enough fruit and vegetables in the diet.

So how much do we take to raise the amount in our body to have strong tissues? Opinions vary and that is a big problem for the health conscious consumer standing in a shop faced with a wall of supplements!

The World Health Organisation has its view and each nation will have an authority that comes out with its recommendations.

It is worth saying here that the average medical doctor has no training at all in nutrition and so the person that has the biggest say in most people's lives is as uninformed as they are!

That fact surprises most people but it's true; medical doctors are trained to use pharmaceutical drugs and not to use natural remedies – even though many drugs are based on naturally occurring plant chemicals.

It is only Nutritionists and Naturopaths that have sufficient training, expertise and expertise to be in a position to advise on natural remedies and diet.

Logically therefore it’s the well trained Naturopaths and Nutritionists that create the guidelines handed down by the World Health Organisation and the FDA etc ?

No it isn't!

All the advice and guidelines are provided by medical doctors who have little or no training and expertise in these matters.

They will be highly qualified in using drugs as treatment for illnesses and they may have expertise in genetics or surgery and other non-nutritional areas but Naturopaths and Nutritionists who use vitamins and other food supplements are not involved at all.

So it may not surprise you that Doctor led – that is Medical Doctor led research and publications will dismiss the use of vitamin and mineral supplements; they will say that there is no proof that they work and may even pose hazards.

A Nutritionist or a Naturopath who works with supplements will of course have a totally different perspective.

The bottom line here is that you get to choose who to pay attention to when considering your health issues.
The next question in choosing your nutrients is which type to go for. Sticking to vitamin C we ask…

Which Vitamin C to take?

So if you choose to buy a good vitamin C supplement what happens next? Because when you visit a "Health shop" to get some vitamin C you find a choice of ascorbic acid, calcium ascorbate, sodium ascorbate, effervescent vitamin C, time release vitamin C, Vitamin C with bioflavonoids and I could go on!

There you have 6 versions of this one nutrient and it is a similar confusion of choice for other nutrients too.
I'm not going to give a detailed blow by blow account of all this ( at least in this article) – let's cut to the chase here!
Notice the word "ascorbic" and "ascorbate" in those names? That is vitamin C and the simple truth is that we can package it in different ways.
As long as you get ascorbate you get vitamin C and which one you actually choose is a side issue.
The low cost option is usually ascorbic acid which you can easily get a tablet or a powder. That will produce a very weak acid tasting a little like lemonade.
Some people like to use types of vitamin C that are not acidic even a bit, and they can choose calcium ascorbate. This is called "Buffered" form of vitamin C.

What Type of Vitamin C Do I take?

My vitamin C choice is a blend of 3 forms of vitamin C from that list above and it has ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate and calcium ascorbate blended into tablet form.

In addition it has a range of healthy plant chemicals called the bioflavonoids and these work with vitamin C to increase its effectiveness.
I choose to take tablets rather than a powder – when you are taking a few grams a day it is simpler to have tablets which have one gram per tablet.
Technically I prefer to use capsules to deliver the nutrients I want because a tablet usually has some extra chemicals mixed into it to hold the tablet together.

If you choose a capsule then you avoid that but then of course you have to check what the capsule is made of.

It may be made of gelatin about which the Wiki says, "Gelatin is derived from pork skins, pork, horses, and cattle bones, or split cattle hides"
Clearly not a choice for vegetarians or vegans and not a choice I'd recommend whatever your diet.

Capsules can easily be made from cellulose which is a basic plant material and my recommendation is to use these so called Vegecaps if you want nutrients in capsules rather tablets.

In coming to these recommendation I have ignored several options which I believe are not worth looking at – Effervescent tablets, Sustained or Timed release and Ester C as well conventionally made capsules.

I think they are just gimmicks

Other practitioners will come to their own judgement call and you will too! You're welcome to ask about any of these issues in the Comment section below.

How About Other Vitamins?

About now you might be wondering if we need to delve into detail for all the several dozen other nutrients!
Well "Yes" you do have to when you are training so that means I did so you don't have to and this article is long enough already!
We can cover our general needs with a good high quality multi-vitamin and multimineral and add to that with a few special nutrient that can't be squeezed into it

Here is a general strategy for taking Vitamins

1 A Good multi – overall wide ranging "insurance!" with essential minerals such as Iodine and Zinc. Extra magnesium may be needed for relaxation!
2 Vitamin C – you cannot get the amount you need in a multi
3 Vitamin D – extra D3 needed for all of us who live in temperate climates
4 Vitamin K – may be needed to fortify your bloodstream and bones
5 Vitamin B Complex – crucial if you have blood pressure or other circulation issues

Taking Tablets or What Else?

We touched on taking supplements by tablet, powder and capsule. But there are ways too we can take nutrients. Here are a few more that ingenious supplement manufacturers have developed:

• Sub lingual – this literally means under the tongue and implies that we don't need to swallow tablets. Some folks, not just children get spooked by swallowing tablets even though they can easily swallow their meals! Homeopathic tablets are often made to dissolve in the mouth and the medicine then is absorbed direct into the bloodstream and the remainder is swallowed.

Some formulations can be sprayed under the tongue but I'd be cautious about this to check what is in that spray!

• Herbs are the next big category of nutrients and medicines and they work sometimes by giving us a healthy dose of a particular mineral or vitamin and sometimes by supplying an important healing agent from the roots or leaves of a herb.

Lots of ways to do this. We can make a tea from the herb or take tablets or capsules or make an extract of the plant in alcohol which is called a tincture.

All these ways of taking herbs work and some are better for some herbs than others but my face is a tincture. Just a few drops of the tincture in a glass of water and you can't get much easier than that!

In this article and the previous one we have looked at the why and how of taking natural remedies such as vitamins, minerals and herbs.

The best way to ensure that you get what you need is to get a consultation with a health professional and the article should help you raise any issues you have with them and get the natural medicine and remedies best for you.

Now do please ask any questions about taking vitamins in the Comment Section and if you think a friend would like to read it kindly use the Social Media buttons provided.

AuthorAlex Newell ND

I love learning and being healthy so as soon as I came across Yoga, read and practised to get the health benefits. When I was approaching middle age my health declined under the onslaught o stress and possibly poor diet, I had a perfect opportunity to learn more and I qualified in both Osteopathy and Naturopathy. Our health really is in our own hands and not in the hands of "The Doctor" or our Genes :-)

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