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The virtual shelves of the supplement market are teeming with choice but how do you decode the ingredients and make sure you’re getting what your body needs?
Don’t feel disheartened if you stare at the back of a supplement bottle and can’t decipher a single thing, they’re designed that way. Firstly, there’s a lot of technical information that needs to be included on a very small space so the labels are a lexicon of abbreviations. Secondly, it doesn’t help manufacturers to be overly transparent because if you can make out every dosage of every ingredient, you might work out how much benefit (or not), the product could be to you.
So, how to know if supplements are good quality, I hear you ask? Surprisingly, the answer is to ignore the small print entirely and stick to these six fail-safe checks.
It sounds like it can’t possibly be true but it is. Turns out, it’s the Wild West of extracts and there is no governing body that regulates the quality and claims of the nutraceutical market, which makes it very difficult to choose the best supplement. “Ideally there should be a separate governing body for evidence based nutrition,” says LYMA founder, Lucy Goff. “But currently, the only legal requirement of a manufacturer is that they list the ingredients and the dosage. There’s nothing to tell you anything about how effective that supplement is going to be inside your body, or if it's going to have any health benefit at all.”
When you see the long list of ingredients on the back of a supplement bottle, it’s easy to be convinced you’re about to take in the whole alphabet of vitamins. The more nutrients squeezed inside the better, surely? Not so. “You should be able to eat your nutrients in a healthy balanced diet and nowadays it’s highly unlikely that you’re deficient in most vitamins and minerals,” says Lucy Goff. “If you do have a deficiency, your body will show that but the only vitamins we’re likely to be deficient in now are vitamins D and K2. Anything else is unlikely to be needed by the body and if you’re not deficient in it, the body will just flush it out.”
You might want to assume the brace position now because what’s more, fish oils and multivitamins which make up the largest part of the supplement sector, have never been proved to work. There is no dusty old research document that shows they improve our health and yet we’ve been blindly buying them up for over 50 years. “Health benefit claims of vitamins and minerals are based on you eating the whole food in its natural state, not a synthesized version in a supplement,” explains Goff. “This is hugely misleading to the consumer. Eating the food will give you the benefit, not taking the vitamin form.”
When ingredients have been proven to work at an exact dosage, it’s a big deal and they get patented for it. These are extracts that have been intensively researched and proved their preclinical and clinical functionality. Patenting is a mark of excellence that’s steadfast and gold standard, so they’re well worth honing in on. “Don't look the generic ingredient, look for the patented ingredient,” advises Lucy. “You need to know whether these ingredients have ever worked on a medicinal level, in order to provide a medicinal benefit.”
The list of percentages is not the whole story, so an ingredient that‘s a whopping 600% of your Recommended Daily Allowance, isn’t going to have you leaping from building to building come lunchtime. “Dosage can be deceiving and you only get the whole picture from looking at the numbers behind the numbers,” warns Goff. “The only dose that matters, is that of the active compound.” It’s easy to be wowed when a product label boasts 1000mg of their hero ingredient but take care because perhaps 12.5% of that is the active compound and the remaining 87.5% could be made up of the carrier ingredients that make it water soluble. It is tricky to assess the quality of the supplement by simply looking at the label, but you can “use LYMA as a benchmark if you like,” suggests Lucy. “Look for a patented ingredient, which is the proven form of that ingredient, and if you see another brand offering that same patented form of the ingredient at a lower level dosage, you know that dosage isn’t going to be effective because LYMA always dose at the proven, clinical level.”
Hands down the best way of deciphering the quality of supplement ingredients is to look for peer reviews. This means an independent body of expert scientists have picked through every line of research, analysing and investigating if it stands up technically. If an ingredient is peer reviewed, you can be confident it’s worth investing in. Take affron® 28mg in LYMA; six separate studies to date have demonstrated that a daily dose of 28mg, it alleviates low mood states and anxiety by enhancing resilience and our ability to deal with adversity.
If you can’t trust the label, trust your body. Do you feel better from taking a supplement? Have you noticed your mind quiet, your moods balance or your sleep improve? Give any supplement three months to show results and then take stock of how you feel. “That's what LYMA is fantastic for because even from very early on, you can feel it’s working and if you don't want to believe anyone else, believe yourself. There’s nothing more important than that, after all,” says Lucy.
Vitamin D is the most prolific deficiency in the western hemisphere. Unable to consume it, we need to supplement vitamin D to support the brain, immune and nervous systems. Most forms are derived from lanolin at 600 international units but the patented Vita-algae D3™ in LYMA is derived from marine algae and dosed at 2000 i.u. At this higher potency, Vita-algae D3™ is clinically proven to regulate mood and reduce the symptoms of depression.
Ashwagandha is an ancient adaptogen that comes in many forms and doses but KSM-66® Ashwagandha in LYMA is a patented formulation that at 600mg, is proven to combat anxiety, stress and aid sleep.
Turmeric is a renowned anti-inflammatory but the body can barely absorb it, making most forms nothing more than a placebo. HydroCurc® 600mg in LYMA is the patented form of curcumin (turmeric root extract), that has been enhanced with LipiSperse® technology, delivering four times more curcuminoids than other brands of curcumin for maximum absorption in the body.