These reports appear to be based on ratings by consumers. Not scientific study. Some of the information is given on this webpage, but the full report is available for purchase. Consumer Labs has other studies that may be helpful too. They charge a fee for much of their information.
Vitamin supplements and quality control
The USP (United States Pharmacopeia) is a nonprofit organization that sets standards for medicines, food ingredients, and dietary supplements manufactured, distributed, and consumed worldwide. You will see their label (USP) on some bottles of supplements that they have tested. Their stamp means they have tested the product and approved it according to their testing. It means the product has met its standards. However, it does not mean the product is what you need. As an example, I have a bottle of vitamin E pills that contains the USP stamp. But, the vitamin E in the bottle is the synthetic type. This is stated as the main ingredient on the bottle label. Nutrition experts do not recommend the synthetic type (di-alpha tocopheryl acetate). So I have a bottle of vitamin E with the USP stamp of approval on it. A bottle of vitamin E that I will be throwing in the garbage!
Grades of Supplements
There are 2 categories of supplements often discussed—food grade, which meets human consumption standards. And pharmaceutical grade, which meets pharmaceutical standards. According to Wiktionary, pharmaceutical grade is “A standard of purity suitable for use as a medicine.” Apparently, most supplements are not labeled with either of these 2 grades. Some say the pharmaceutical grade claim used by some supplement sellers is simply a marketing ploy. Others say it’s an important consideration. You might think vitamin supplements are a bit off-topic what talking about heart health. But really, they’re not. Various vitamins have been studied in terms of their importance to heart health. Vitamin B6 has been associated with a reduction of heart attacks in women. Vitamin C has been known to help lower blood pressure. Vitamin D and vitamin E have also been mentioned when discussing heart health.
How to know which and how much vitamin supplements to take
We have the government’s RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance). And we have other recommendations from various experts. Some of the government’s RDA numbers are considered inaccurate by some experts. Most experts recommend that you try to get as much of your vitamin and mineral nutrients from food. And many recommend adding supplements to fill in the gaps where you may not get enough of these nutrients from food.
I’ve always thought it makes sense to take vitamin supplements in case I don’t get what I need from the food I eat. As I continue to learn more about what our food contains, I’m increasingly convinced that we need supplements. I’m also more concerned and confused about the quality of supplements—more on that below.
Here’s a short list of supplements that I have seen recommended, especially for heart health.
– Vitamin D (2000IU or more, up to 8000IU)
– Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplements (1 to 3 grams of DHA and EPA)
– Vitamin C and vitamin E supplements if the multivitamin is short on these
How to know which brand of vitamin supplements to buy
If you are taking supplements that don’t work, you’re just wasting your time and money. So you want to get this right.
Think about it. If you take the same supplements for many years only to find out they didn’t contain any nutrients, or your system could not absorb those nutrients, it’s a waste of time and money. And you’ve also lost health benefits that you might have otherwise achieved with better supplements or food!
You need to know which supplements work. And which ones don’t. Finding the answer is not easy. When searching for reviews of supplements you’ll find websites that claim to have reviewed them. They provide their results with a chart that ranks the best through the worst. Sometimes, looking closer, you’ll also find that these websites are selling supplements too. And of course, what they are selling is usually recommended. Reviews are only part of the picture. Studies involving actual documented cases are challenging to do. There are so many variables involved.