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You now understand why you may need to supplement, but you’re not sure how to identify what types of supplements are best. It is key to be informed when selecting supplements, as many contain sugars, dyes, GMO-corn, and artificial ingredients that you have worked very hard to eliminate from your diet.
A supplement with poor-quality ingredients may do you more harm than good. So what are the different types of supplements?
A USP dietary supplement is labeled as such because it meets the purity and potency standards of the United States Pharmacopeia. USP nutrients are the ones most commonly used in nutritional research. When you read a health or nutrition study that included supplementation, the supplements were often USP grade. These supplements have demonstrated their efficacy in various studies, so the concept that only food-derived supplements are effective is false.
A food-based supplement is made from a base of dried foods (and sometimes herbs) to which USP nutrients have been added. This process allows the supplement to contain the precise amount of nutritional support desired by the manufacturer and allows the product to be labeled as a “food-based nutritional supplement.” For example, a multivitamin made this way would be considered a food-based supplement.
This type of supplement contains USP nutrients that have been assimilated into a medium such as a broth of yeast or algae. The medium is then dehydrated and encapsulated or put into tablet form. The supplement is then considered to be in the form of a food.
Foods such as fruits, vegetables, sprouts, seeds, grains, lecithin, probiotics, etc., are combined to make a food concentrate supplement. The fruits and vegetables used in these supplements are usually juiced and freeze-dried, while the other foods may undergo different types of processing. A supplement manufacturer may use any number of processes to extract from foods the specific substances needed. Usually, this processing and combining results in a powder that contains the combined concentrated nutrients from the whole foods used. This powder may be sold in bulk form for use in shakes or other foods, or put into capsules or tablets to be consumed as a supplement. Next week, we’ll explain how to choose between types of supplements.
Tip: Choosing what type of supplement to take may have a lot to do with whether the nutrient is in a water-soluble or a fat-soluble form!