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How to Assess Health Supplements Based on Their Nutrients

With tons of health supplement products now available, selecting the best products can be overwhelming. It’s not just a question of which supplements you need, but knowing how to spot a product that is safe as well as effective.

Types of Nutrients

You have to read label carefully to know what nutrient forms are in the product. There are nutrients that can be effective in any form. For example, whether vitamin C is in synthetic or natural form, it will always be acceptable. When it comes to beta-carotene and Vitamin E, however, it’s another story – both are superior when they come in natural form. Most mineral forms are also acceptable, but depending on your health status, there will be differences in terms of bioavailability. And as different people have different abilities to absorb nutrients, you have to choose mineral supplements with a variety of sources.


There are products that boast having so many good ingredients. However, when you check their labels, you will see that the amount of each ingredient may be so tiny that it couldn’t possibly create a difference in your health. An arthritis supplement, for example, may claim to have a whole variety of great ingredients, such as 500 mg of glucosamine sulfate. If you know nothing about these things, you may just get impressed. However, based on clinical trials, glucosamine sulfate can only help you if you take at least 1,500 mg of it. So even if you think you’re buying great product, you won’t really get anything from it. Don’t be fooled by this type of deceptive marketing.

Make sure you know the the recommended dosages for each key nutrient before you go out there and buy any product or products. Besides that, you also need to know how to correctly interpret the numbers associated with chelated minerals like magnesium succinate and calcium citrate. Note that the actual elemental amounts of chelated minerals are not always indicated by the doses listed for them. When we say, “elemental,” we mean the actual mineral in a product, and not the total weight of the chelated mineral compound. For example, about 40% of calcium carbonate is made up of elemental calcium–in order to get 500 mg of elemental calcium, 1,250 mg of calcium carbonate would be required.

If you see on the label “(blank) mg calcium (from calcium carbonate),” “(blank) mg calcium (as calcium carbonate)” or “(blank) mg elemental calcium,” that means you will get (blank) mg of elemental calcium. However, if on the label, it is written, “(blank) mg calcium carbonate,” it’s safe to assume that the total calcium amount is but 40 percent of that.


Yes, every health supplement should have an expiration date. Though certain nutrients, like calcium and other minerals, can stay potent for years upon years, others such as vitamins B and C expire much earlier.

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