Ask the Diet Doctor: What Vitamins Should I Take?
Overwhelmed by the supplement aisle? Here’s what your body needs
Q: Every time I walk into my local health food store, the supplements section overwhelms me! It’s not just the sheer number, but also the different types of the same vitamin or supplement. How do I know which to buy? Are all forms of a vitamin created equal?
A: I feel your pain. Even with my Ph.D. in nutrition, shopping for supplements can still overwhelm me. Generally speaking most supplements are created equal (vitamin C is vitamin C), but there are several important exceptions to note. Here, five supplements that can be especially confusing and how to pick the best bottle for you.
Your doctor might recommend prescription-strength fish oil to help treat high triglycerides (a major risk factor for heart disease), but here’s something you should know: You can get the same effect from high-potency fish oil sold over the counter—without the steep prescription price. While prescription fish oil is molecularly different than over-the-counter fish oil, that doesn’t mean it’s better. In fact, according to recent research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, the body absorbs ‘traditional’ fish oil supplements better than the prescription version.
The best buy: To get the biggest bang for your buck, look for a molecularly distilled fish oil supplement that is at least 50 percent pure (meaning that on the nutrition label, the milligrams of EPA and DHA comprise at least half of the total fat in the supplement).