If you are someone who spends your hard-earned money on high-quality organic food and supplements, how do you know if you are getting the absolute best and that they are safe AND effective?
Americans spend more than $14 billion dollars a year on supplements alone.
This means that many of us are looking for ways to improve our health, look younger, prevent illness, and we are willing to spend our hard earned money to do it.
With so many options on the market, some better than others, you want to make the most informed decision for your money and your safety.
Let’s consider what it takes to USE these nutrients once you’ve had that delicious Sunday morning brunch with your friends. Realize that it takes a lot of work to digest and absorb nutrients, and even when digestion is almost perfect, you are not absorbing 100% of the nutrients you consume.
External Factors That Affect Digestion
1. Digestion: The gastrointestinal tract is technically the outside world. Clean food goes in one end of the tube and dirty food comes out of the other. This is a multi-step process that includes mechanical digestion (e.g. chewing) and chemical digestion (e.g. enzymes that further breakdown food particles into smaller, absorbable forms). There are a lot of steps to this process and any deficiencies in one or more of these steps will affect how well you digest your food.
2. Raw or cooked: Whether food is raw or cooked affects the digestibility and nutrient density of the food we eat. Raw foods generally have more nutrient density but are harder to digest. Cooked foods generally are easier to digest but lose some of the nutrient value or destroys nutrients in the process.
3. Inhibitors and promoters: Certain nutrient combinations can inhibit or promote nutrient absorption. For example, most of us may absorb only 10-20% of the non-heme iron from plant-based foods. If we consume sources of iron with black tea or coffee, this inhibits absorption even further. If we consume iron sources with Vitamin C and our stomachs produce sufficient stomach acid, we absorb more iron.
4. Nutrient forms and quality: Nutrients also come in many different chemical configurations (think different shapes), some more readily absorbed and utilized by the body than others. For example, maybe you take a calcium supplement. There are many forms to choose from--calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, calcium orotate, and others.
5. The Microbiome: There have been recent estimates that the number of gut bacterial cells are equal to or greater than human cells in the human body—about (1.3 trillion bacterial cells to human cells.) There are beneficial, symbiotic bacteria that influence our immune function, affect our mood, and even produce vitamins in forms that may not be available in the foods we eat! We inherit our microbiome from our mother, who inherited it from her mother, and her mother’s mother. However, our microbiome can be disrupted by stress, poor dietary choices, medications, illness, or all of the above.
It is a miracle that all of this is orchestrated and managed subconsciously day after day. But there is more!
There are internal factors that affect how we use and access nutrients.
1. Age: As the human body ages, our ability to absorb or utilize nutrients decreases. Our cellular machinery tends to be less efficient. However, aging is not just the number of years you have been alive, but also how well you take care of yourself during those years.
2. Physical stress: This can range from lifting weights, hiking, surgery, or injury. Your body demands more of the building blocks necessary to repair and regenerate.
3. Emotional stressors: Dealing with a chronically difficult family situation or financial issues can deplete vitamins and minerals and promote inflammation that adds additional burden on our bodies and minds.
4. Chemical stressors: Pollution, excess alcohol, certain medications, or poor dietary habits deplete our nutrient stores even further and prevents cells from functioning properly.
5. Chronic infections: Chronic infections like Lyme’s disease, Epstein-Barr Virus, or Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth can sequester important nutrients and disrupt normal cellular function.
In an ideal world, we would get all of the essential nutrients from our food. However, the food we consume is not as nutrient dense as it once was, we face more stress in our daily lives that creates more demand for these nutrients, and modern living emphasizes speed and convenience over health promotion.
All of these factors mean that many of us need to supplement our diets with high quality nutritional food supplements .
Yet, not all supplements are created equal.
The FDA has different regulations for supplements compared to pharmaceutical drugs. This can result in unscrupulous manufacturers using lower quality ingredients or having looser standards for the amounts of the claimed nutrients in the bottle.
A poor quality supplement can hit the shelf and end up in your home before the FDA is notified or determines a supplement to be ineffective, unsafe, or both.
However, just as there are subpar quality supplements, there are companies dedicated to creating high-quality products.
What to look for in a high-quality supplement?
Even though our bodies have detoxification processes that are always working, these processes can become overwhelmed if the total body burden exceeds what these systems can handle. This is when you begin to see signs of aging skin--wrinkles, saggy skin, and dark spots.
Purity and quality are extremely important. The last thing you want is to add additional body burden from inferior supplements.
Pay attention to the nutritional facts and look out for the full list of ingredients. If your supplements contain preservatives, fillers, toxic metals, or rancid nutrients, it can do more harm than good in the long run all while costing you a lot of money. Essentially, if you put garbage in, you get garbage out.
The things I look for in a high-quality supplement:
- Is it safe and produced with current good manufacturing practices?
- Is the supplement effective and in a form that is bioavailable and easily utilized by the body?
- Are there artificial sweeteners like sucralose or potentially harmful fillers or preservatives?
- Is there enough of the said nutrient in the right dose to actually make a difference?
- Do manufacturers seek third party testing that indicate the manufacturer is going above and beyond the minimum requirements? In case you were wondering, Taut Collagen does.
- Am I getting the product from a trusted distributor? I hesitate to buy brand-name supplements from unauthorized dealers (e.g. on Amazon.com) because there is no guarantee that the product is being stored in proper temperatures, have been tampered with, or are counterfeit.
When you minimize your exposure to toxins and stressors and provide high quality nutritional building blocks to support healthy tissues, your skin will naturally look younger and more radiant.
Navigating the world of supplements and health products can be overwhelming. Need help tailoring a nutrition and supplement strategy that is right for you?
Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Taut nutrition strategy,” let me know your BIGGEST health challenge, and I will personally reply to your question.