One of the most confounding areas for most parents is whether or not to give supplements to their youth athletes. Right behind that question is which product should you choose. I want to begin the discussion with what I call "foundational supplements", or vitamin, mineral and antioxidant supplementation.
There is more than enough evidence today to support offering a daily multivitamin-mineral-antioxidant supplement to children and adolescents. Diets may be marginal to low in a number of these essential nutrients. Add in very active days with limited time for meals and snacks, minimal time for rest and recovery, and high demands both mentally and physically, and nutritional supplementation becomes essential.
Once you've decided to use a supplement, how do you choose which brand is best? Until fairly recently many people, even health professionals, felt that most products were fairly similar in contents. But that concept is quickly falling to the wayside, even when it comes to simple products containing only one ingredient.
This past week a study was published by Kaiser Permanente in the Journal of the American Medical Association:Internal Medicine investigating the contents of vitamin D supplements. Researchers performed an independent analysis of several over-the-counter vitamin D supplements, and the results were stunning: the contents of the vitamin varied from as little as 9 percent of what was stated on the label to as much as 146 percent of the amount of vitamin D listed on the bottle. 55 different products manufactured by 12 companies were tested. Differences were found not only from one product to another, but even between pills in the same bottle.
So if you can't trust that you are getting what you pay for when it comes to a simple single nutrient supplement, how can you depend on brands for more complex products? Look for products with third-party laboratory certification. This means that the manufacturer has hired an independent lab to test the contents of their supplement and confirm that what is stated on the label is actually in the product. But there's more:
IS THE SUPPLEMENT SAFE TO TAKE?
You want to know that your product is pure, free of contamination, along with containing the most potent forms of the nutrients. You should get exactly what is stated on the label, and there shouldn't be anything in the product that is not listed on the label. In addition to standard USP certification, in the sports world we like to see certification from NSF for Sport, Banned Substances Control Group (BSCG), or Informed Choice.
DOES THE SUPPLEMENT GET ABSORBED?
Supplements can pass through the digestive tract partially or completely unabsorbed. Make sure that the supplement meets USP standards for potency, uniformity, disintegration and dissolution so that you are getting all that you expect from your supplement.
IS THE FORMULATION SCIENCE-BASED AND THE COMPANY CREDIBLE?
Expect to see studies proving the quality and research of the product. Look for studies that are done by a credible and independent third party source, or in collaboration with a third party source. Studies should be published in peer-reviewed journals. The company should manufacture the products themselves, rather than outsourcing the production. They should voluntarily meet the highest manufacturing standards known as the "Pharmaceutical Good Manufacturing Practices (Pharma GMP).
EDUCATION FOR YOU
I have created 2 brochures to help you design a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet and give you guidance when choosing a supplement. One is focused on exercise performance and recovery, and the other on nutrition and dental health.
Click here to view a mock up of the dental brochure.
Click here to view a mock up of the performance enhancement and recovery brochure.
To order the brochures:
Click here to order the dental brochure.
Click here to order the performance enhancement and recovery brochure.
Stay health and strong!
Dr. Susan M. Kleiner