In addition to the content of active nutrients, we can find other substances (additives) with different functions – most often they lenghten their shelf life, add to their volume, prevent their oxidation or facilitate their disintegration in stomach.
A very often is the form of softgel – it is mostly a gelatin capsule that is filled with either some oil containing fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, beta-carotene), lecithin and essential amino acids. These capsules contain fewer additives than tablets and dissolve faster in the digestive tract. But – it is not entirely true that the substances in the capsules are more suitable and better used in our body!
People who for various reasons do not like to swallow tablets and capsules can purchase the supplements in the form of powder, which easily dissolves in water or mixed into food.
Another category of supplements is represented by the liquid form – easy to swallow, often flavored, which is especially useful for young children. A specific group of products are liquid extracts – a concentrated solutions produced by leaching plants in water, glycerine or alcohol.
Very modern and widely promoted are the preparations which are gradually releasing individual substances in our digestive tract. They are composed of very small capsules which are contained in a normal sized one. These micro-capsules, when passing our digestive system, gradually disintegrate and release the substance in the blood for up to several hours.
Rarely we can meet up with supplements that are taken sublingually – usually a liquid containing active substances that is dripped under the tongue, thus accelerating the overall absorption of all nutrients.
What should we observe when choosing supplements?
First important thing is the information on their labels or leaflets. There is a furious competition among the manufacturers of dietary supplements, so they mark their products in different attractive terms such as “pharmaceutical quality”, “clinically tested”, “clean”, “scientifically standardized” etc. When deciding which supplement to buy, it is a good idea to realize that none of these words are actually normally defined by the manner approved by the relevant directive offices and that this is only a way of subliminal advertising.
A normal procedure in the manufacturing of dietary supplements usually looks as follows: One company produces plant material, this material is then bought by another company, which then processes it into pure pulp, powder, extract or concentrate. In another place, another company produces various forms of vitamins, minerals and other active substances commonly used in the food industry. These materials are available to wholesalers, who then sell them to companies producing their own brand of food supplements. If you come to the store or pharmacy for some medicine, there is a strong likelihood that many of the exhibited products contain ingredients from the same manufacturers.
For this reason, it is preferable to check the amount of the active substances, compare them with the amount contained in other products and recalculate the product’s price, at least for an approximate idea. In many cases, you will find that among the products from different manufacturers and with the same amount of components, there is a big price difference.