Are all supplements created equal?

When you’re taking supplements it can be hard to know what to take, how many to take and which brand to buy. There are overwhelming shelves of products in grocery stores, My Chemist Warehouse and over the counter supplements in pharmacies. So are all these products the same?

 

The aim of a supplement is to do just that; “supplement” your diet to fill any vitamin and mineral deficiencies. The supplements you take should enhance or repair your health. With this in mind, it’s important to note not all supplements are created equally and no one supplement can take the place of a balanced diet and targeted lifestyle interventions. 

 Do we need Supplements?

Unfortunately, it is very very difficult to obtain everything we need from our diet alone. At Edison, we’re big advocates for eating real nutrient-dense food. Ultimately, this means prioritising a diet high in plant foods; leafy greens, fresh seasonal produce, legumes, whole grains, and if you consume animal protein; including all parts of the animal including organ meat, and using the bones for broth. 

For lots of reasons; be they ethical, time, financial, or knowledge, it is really difficult to construct a diet to include all of these things each and every day. 

Additionally, modern farming practices, convenience foods and the shelf life of produce in the supermarket all mean the foods we are consuming are not as nutrient dense as we need.

Over The Counter (OTC) Supplements

Over the counter supplements are available without guidance or purchase through a practitioner. This means they’re more readily available. 

 

One of the key differences between medical-grade products and OTC supplements are the ingredients. These vitamins or supplements often use synthetic or cheaper forms of vitamins. 

 

Medical Grade supplements such as the Nutrisearch products we use at Edison typically contain the best forms of vitamins that make sure that your body is getting the most effective and natural form of the vitamin. This is often why they cost more. However, it may work out cheaper in the long run as you need a smaller amount over the long-term to support your nutritional deficiencies. 

 

This is because over the counter vitamins generally have lower concentrations of the product. This means that you may need to take more of the over the counter supplement to get to the daily goal than that of a practitioner only product.

About Medical Grade/Pharmaceutical Supplements

Medical grade supplements are manufactured to the same standards as pharmaceutical drugs. They are the highest quality supplements available and meet all pharmaceutical standards.  Our Doctors at Edison can prescribe vitamins and minerals the way that other doctors prescribe drugs. This is done in order to alter a patient’s biochemistry to restore overall health. This is a safe and natural way to make health changes.

Practitioner grade supplements have a requirement that they must absorb into the body within 45 minutes. Ingredients listed on the label must match the product in the container. This means you know exactly what you’re getting with this type of supplement. All raw ingredients are tested before production in order to make sure that all toxins are removed from the product before sale.

Understanding Bioavailability

The term bioavailability relates to how a drug or supplement is absorbed into the body. If a supplement is taken orally, the bioavailability decreases because other things affect the absorption. An example of this is iron tablets, where consumption alongside caffeine can reduce absorption of the iron.

 

The bioavailability of over the counter products can be an issue. Many multivitamins have a lot of different things in one pill. Oftentimes these formulations can impact how you absorb the nutrients because there are so many vitamins and minerals in the product. Conversely,  practitioner grade supplements have specific guidelines for bioavailability as they must be digested within 45 minutes to be deemed medical grade.

 

Obviously underpinning your habits with energy-giving foods, daily movement and adequate sleep are vital components of health. We cannot simply take a supplement and erase the need for these things. Our Doctors at Edison will always reach for these preventative lifestyle interventions before looking at supplemental support. However, through testing and lifestyle questionnaires there will be times we identify a need for additional support. This is where we use the quality Nutrisearch products to support your health. 

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