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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 matter of knowing what supplements you need, but rather how to know which supplements are the safest and most effective for you.

Nutrient Types

You need to read the label thoroughly to see what nutrient are found in the product. Some nutrients don’t have to come in any special form. For instance, whether synthetic or natural, Vitamin C is always acceptable. However, when it comes to Vitamin E and beta-carotene, however, natural is superior. Most mineral forms are also acceptable, but depending on your health status, there will be differences in terms of bioavailability. And because people have individual differences in their capacity to absorb nutrients, it is best to take nutrient supplements containing a whole variety of sources.


There are products that boast having so many good ingredients. Yet upon checking their labels, you may find that the individual amounts of these ingredients are so small that they couldn’t possibly impact your health in any way, let alone a therapeutic way. For example, an arthritis supplement be promoted as a product that provides tons of great ingredients, including 500 mg of glucosamine sulfate. If you know nothing about these things, you may just get impressed. However, clinical trials show that you need about 1,500 mg of glucosamine sulfate for it to have beneficial effects. So while you might actually believe you’ve buying a great product, it won’t really work like you want it to. Don’t fall prey to deceptive marketing tactics.

Find out how much of each key nutrient you need so you can be guided while shopping for health supplements. Another thing you need to know is how to interpret the numbers linked to 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. By “elemental,” we mean the actual mineral found in a product as opposed to the chelated mineral compound’s total weight. 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, on the label, you find “(blank) mg elemental calcium,” “(blank) mg calcium (from calcium carbonate),” or “(blank) mg calcium (as calcium carbonate),” that means you will be getting (blank) mg of elemental calcium. But if you only find on the label, “(blank) mg calcium carbonate,” that means only 40% of that is actual calcium.


Yes, every health supplement should have an expiration date. While calcium and other minerals can stay potent for many years, vitamins B and C and certain other nutrients have a substantially shorter shelf life.

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