Okay – so we are well aware ‘practitioner only’ supplements can be more expensive than the over the counter variety (and there can even be a big difference in price between different over the counter brands), and it can be hard to see the benefits of paying extra for what essentially appears to be the same thing……BUT – many of the over counter products are not what they appear to be!
Yes – when reading the back of the labels and comparing that really expensive magnesium you bought from your health care practitioner with the one in the chemist – it is easy to feel like you have been taken for a ride – but here’s a few things to be aware of:
Many brands available to health care practitioners have higher potencies of their active ingredients as your health care practitioner has undertaken extensive education (and has access to ongoing learning) to ensure that the supplements will be safely prescribed.
So what about those supplements that are the exact same strength? Like the glucosamine you bought that says 1500mg, just like the other brand - surely they’re the same right? Wrong!
Lots of supplements come in many different forms. Take magnesium for example……. Magnesium can come as:
- Magnesium Oxide
- Magnesium Citrate
- Magnesium Glycinate
- Magnesium Sulfate
- Magnesium Chloride (and the list goes on………and on…… and on!)
All these different types of magnesium are utilised and absorbed by the body VERY differently.
A common form of Magnesium that is used by many a natural health care provider is Magnesium Bisglycinate (this means that the magnesium molecule has been bound to 2 glycine molecules).
One particular practitioner companies patented magnesium formula has been shown in clinical trials to be absorbed :
*2.3 Times better than Magnesium carbonate.
*3.6 Times better than Magnesium sulfate.
*10 Times better than Magnesium oxide.
And another study found magnesium bisglycinate to be absorbed 2.2 times better than magnesium citrate (one of the most common forms found in over the counter supplements)
This particular practitioner brand also has a whole host of B vitamins, plus some other great nutrients that contribute to maintaining health.
So – double the absorption (or perhaps more), plus the added extra vitamins/minerals – and all of a sudden that ‘expensive’ brand is looking much better value for money.
Excipients are the non-active substances added to supplements and medications as fillers. Many cheaper brands use either a large number of excipients, or low quality excipients that can cause all sorts of reactions in the body.
Recently we put up a Facebook post pointing out the excipients in a popular Calcium + D supplement…. Here’s how the list read:
The *active* substances in one tablet are:
Calcium (as carbonate) 600 mg
Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3) 400 IU
The *other* ingredients are:
Tablet Core - microcrystalline cellulose, povidone, crospovidone type A, sodium laurilsulphate, sodium croscarmellose, magnesium stearate, DL-α-tocopherol, partially hydrogenated soya bean oil, bovine gelatin, sucrose, corn starch.
Tablet Coating - light liquid paraffin, talc OPADRY OY-S-27203 (methylhydroxypropylcellulose, titanium dioxide (E171), light liquid paraffin, sodium laurilsulphate, red iron oxide (E172), black iron oxide (E172), yellow iron oxide (E172))
Now that’s not to say that all over the counter brands are this bad - it’s just something to be aware of. These excipients don’t have to be listed on the product label - the only way to find out what they are is to ring the companies and ask, or do some serious investigative work.
Oils ain’t Oils………
……and fish oils ain’t fish oils! Those ENORMOUS tubs of fish oils you can buy in the supermarket for about $1 (slight exaggeration - but you get the point) - may seem like good value - however, with some inferior brands you may as well be pouring your money down the drain - and here’s why:
- Cheaper brands of fish oils tend to source their fish oil from larger fish because larger fish contain more oil (and therefore less are needed for a greater output) - but they also contain more toxins……. the bigger the fish the higher the heavy metal toxicity (generally speaking).
- Cheaper brands tend to use a process that involves heat and exposure to oxygen to extract the oils - but this process can turn the fish oils rancid. Rancid fish oils will give you that nasty fishy reflux taste - PLUS create oxidative stress in the body (which in turn causes inflammation - which is what most of us taking fish oils are trying to overcome!). If you cut open one of your fish oils and it smells very strongly of fish - it is probably rancid.
- Cheaper brands may use less bioavailable forms of fish oils, therefore meaning you have to take many, many more to see any therapeutic effect.
Good quality fish oils are definitely worth the investment!
So the next time you’re browsing the bargain basement supplements - try to consider some of these points and make sure the product you’re buying is really going to be effective….and remember - even the cheapest product on the shelf isn’t a bargain if you don’t need it!