Which Supplement Is Best?

pillsI’ve noticed that when people are told a particular kind of supplement is good to buy, let’s say for fish oil, they often go and buy other supplements from the same maker, say for a multi-vitamin or B vitamin complex.

Caution. This is not a wise idea.

There is no one best manufacturer of all vitamins and supplements. The maker of one of the best fish oil supplements does not make the best multi-vitamin. The maker of a great probiotic doesn’t make a very good B vitamin complex. So don’t buy all your vitamins and supplements from the same manufacturer just because you think they make the best of everything. They may get a “Best All-Around” award, but that doesn’t make each product truly the best. Just improves your odds a bit.

I highly recommend that you research each of your supplements. There are many ways to do this, and I recommend not just trusting one source. Some people like Consumer Reports. Some people like Amazon. Some people go to their favorite blogging site. (Heck, some people even still ask their doctor!) Don’t put all your trust in one basket! Compile all that information to make a supplement choice.

If your doctor suggests a supplement to you, don’t just run to Wal-Mart and buy the cheapest one–or even the most expensive one.  Cost is not always a predictor of the quality of a supplement. Which store you buy from is not always a predictor of the quality of a supplement! Each supplement and ingredient in a supplement has its own inherent list of questions that need asked and answered.

After you’ve looked at the ingredients and how they’re supplied and processed, then you can start looking at costs, narrowing it down as needed to the cheapest of the supplements left for you to choose from.

Supplements are designed differently for different purposes. You need to know what you want to take a supplement for to determine which supplement you want.

For example, some people take resveratrol. One person wants it for their arthritis, while another person wants it to help decrease their risk of dementia. Well, resveratrol can be formulated different ways to get it to different parts of the body. So the resveratrol these two people want would be differently formulated! Knees aren’t brains.

Another example, of which there are many, would be magnesium. Some people take magnesium for headache prevention. Others need it for their sluggish GI tracts. These two groups of people should not be taking the same formulation of magnesium! Some kinds of magnesium are known to be very well absorbed, and that’s the kind the “head-acher” would want. Other magnesium forms are not so well absorbed, drawing water into the GI tract and encouraging bowel movements. That’s what the person with the sluggish GI would want! Each person may “need” some magnesium, but if they choose the wrong form, it won’t do what they need it to do! (Or it’ll do more than they want it to do!)

Look at each ingredient in a supplement. I’m going to tell you. It’s darn hard to get the best form of each ingredient into a multi-ingredient supplement. I’ll be reading through a mulit-vitamin label, nodding my head happily, and then I’ll hit an ingredient which makes me frown. Does that mean to scrap the whole bottle? I don’t know. It usually depends. Who is it for? What’s their diet like? How much can they spend? What’s their health like?

But many people reading this may have issues which require the best and most natural form or vitamin or supplement. So just be aware. Be knowledgeable.

Make food your main source of vitamins and supplements. You can’t out-supplement a bad diet. When I was in medical school and pharmacy school, I remember the professors standing up there—kind of like the Ronald Reagan line—“Read my lips…”—saying, “Most people today don’t need multi-vitamins.”

It echoes in my brain. Why? Because I ate horribly at these times! I lived on bagels, Pop Tarts, cereal, pizza, and restaurant Indian food. Oh! And Diet Coke from McDonald’s. And my gut started stopping. And my brain started aching. And my hormonal system started screaming.

Never once did I hear a professor say, “As long as your patient is eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, meats, seafood, and other real, whole foods, you know, they probably don’t need any vitamins.” That’s closer to the truth.

Eat real, whole foods. Find out which foods have the “supplement” you want!


Well, thanks for reading. I just wanted to take a moment to communicate a little bit about supplements. How one brand doesn’t make the best of everything. Why one supplement may be the rock-star for one person but not another.

There are SO many supplements out there. Be careful. Be cautious. Ask your doctor to make sure it’s safe for your body and safe with anything else you may be taking or doing. Don’t use anything on my blog site as medical guidance.

And please, always be careful when using supplements.



15 thoughts on “Which Supplement Is Best?

  1. sal

    Since you mention magnesium and its different forms. I wondered if you had heard of Magnesium-I-Threonate? This form is supposed to cross the blood brain barrier? Also, what is your feeling on the practitioner only brands like Klaire, Pure Encapsulations, Designs for Health, etc.? Sometimes you can get them on Amazon but technically you should only be able to get them from your health care professional. One of my concerns is origin of ingredients. My hope is with practitioner only brands is that they keep tabs on where the ingredients are being produced and are therefore, worth the extra money?

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Yes, I’ve heard of the magnesium-l-threonate. Haven’t researched it a lot, except came across it when I was studying traumatic brain injury.

      My feeling on the practitioner-only brands is EXACTLY the same as I expressed here. I have some of those brands, and yes, some of the ingredients are great. Others not the best quality. I think it must just be ultra difficult/expensive to include the top quality of each ingredient. I’m not sure, since I don’t specialize in this area. But each company has some GREAT products! Absolutely! Just not every product they market is all that great. Make sense? I’m just really learning you have to choose each supplement individually, research it individually—if you really want a specific thing or effect.

      Have a wonderful week!

      1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        I’m back just to elaborate a little more on threonate thoughts.

        I cannot make the time to read thoroughly on magnesium threonate, but it seems as a magnesium form it supplies magnesium for the cells to get. So who can complain about its “magnesium” properties? But, from briefly reading, I’m not sure it can quite be said yet that it’s better than other forms at performance in the brain. Perhaps it is! Perhaps all magnesium does these things the researchers found for magnesium threonate? I mean, in OB we used mag sulfate IV to treat preeclampsia/eclampsia seizure risk. Mag sulfate enters CSF.

        I wonder if other magnesium/brain studies looked at the same brain areas/things that the magnesium threonate studies did. Do other mag forms just need higher (albeit maybe not tolerable) levels and they’d do the same thing?

        Could it have anything to do with threonine/threonate component?

        Here’s something on threonine (an amino acid) from who knows what kind of source (:-) ): http://ssov3nd.staywellsolutionsonline.com/Library/NaturalStandard/Herbs/153,lthreonine . I found it interesting that it mentions study for ALS, a very bad CNS disease.

        Anyhow, magnesium is a useful supplement. I must recommend always asking your doctor about supplements. Threonate may have a particular edge for those who need CNS prioritized. If doctor says its a good match for you, you have the money, and you don’t despair when things don’t work out, enter it knowing it may not be “the one,” may be worth a shot. Just doesn’t seem to be enough quite yet for me to say, “YES! It’s everything it says it is!”

  2. Bob Niland

    Anyone who wants to be a diligent supplement consumer needs to have a subscription to Consumerlab dot com. It’s an analog of Consumer Reports for supplements.

    I’ve been working on a supplement summary to support my work on the Wheat Belly blog.
    It might be of value to people following similar enlightened ancestral diets, like Grain Brain, LCHF generally, paleo, primal, etc.

  3. Lesq

    Here in NYC everyone takes an array of vitamins each day that if you put on a dinner plate would fill up the whole plate like a cooked meal😱😱 It astonishes me how they walk through these stores and ask the owners or workers what they should take and one after the other throw the bottle in the shopping cart–never checking what’s in it different brands, etc–and check out with hundreds and hundreds of dollars of supplements and the rest of the cart is filled with various ” all natural” sweet mixed fruit/veggie juices and Kabuchas and protein powders which they fool themselves into believing are quality replacements for fruit and veggies and proteins. I am there buying my variety of potatoes, green plantains and yucca to name a few real foods we eat on the daily. I think back to being a child shopping with my mom and what a completely different experience it was in the supermarket. We ate so fresh, natural and colorful as my family still eats today. What a consumer trap Americans have fallen into. This post as usual is great bec gets people thinking about choices instead of just following what others say to do and purchase without any knowledge and research.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Yes. It’s hard for me to go to the health food store here in town because I hear people ask questions. I want to chime in, but I think, “That’s not your business. Stay out. Kids are in the car waiting. They’ll kill me if I don’t get a move on! If I open my mouth, I’ll be here for 30-40 minutes.” LOL! That’s why I had to start a blog! Ha!

      My family didn’t eat healthy. But I remember as a kid we had a BIG garden. And until I got older, we ate lots from that garden. (Just ate a lot of ice cream and cookies and boxed pizza in between.) Then mom said it just became too much work.

      Yes, I hope people decide to want to learn about how to take charge of their health. Our medical system is overwhelmed and will crumble unless we start teaching people how to really take care of themselves.

  4. Tim Steele

    I only take two supplements: Vit D3 and K, and only in the winter months. Otherwise, I try to get all my supplements from real food. It’s such a morass out there trying to decipher which supplements, brands, etc… One article you reads says everyone needs X vitamin, and the next says that X vitamin is actually converted into cyanide or something when taken as a supplement. So frustrating. Reel Food Rulez!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Ahahaha! You should make it “Reel Fude Rules!”

      It is a morass! Like Candy Land and the molasses swamp. I’ve only been reading on them for four years, and I’ve seen great upheavals in recommendations! Crazy! Changes in allegiances, I guess.

      Ah, but how do you pick your D3 and K?

  5. All Seasons Cyclist

    Before buying any supplements I check them out on ConsumerLab.com — they are a group of doctors who buy and test supplements and then compare the cost and quality of each brand. They accept no advertising and they do not sell anything. They also give a ton of information about the results of current research into each supplement.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Good morning, David! How are you? I remember well that you appreciated the information from this company. I think I named it wrong in my post. I’ll have to go back and check; that’s what I was thinking of as I wrote this. I think it seems like a reasonable place to get some information, but I myself still like to read around a lot before I dive in and commit. A lot of places recommend ConsumerLab.com.

      You know I just like to walk around all sides of the animal before I decide anything. Here are a few links to some writing which will help balance all the positives that Consumer Labs gets. Not because I think they’re bad. But because I believe balance is important. I’m an NPR plus Fox kind of girl.


      Now, with those links, any reader must know I could chase down some links bashing those people who wrote them! So I’m NOT saying they’re reliable! I just like to temper my thoughts. See what people are thinking.

      When life settles down, maybe I’ll subscribe to ConsumerLab.com to check it out. I know right now I wouldn’t use it enough to make it worth it for me. But my curiosity often gets me to check stuff out like this eventually.

      Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  6. Marybeth

    Or one could go the route of tincturIng those nutritious weeds (provided you don’t spray pesticides on your lawn and garden) or herbs. Of course for some you may have to outsource for and then you come back to looking for a reliable company.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.