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While everyone loves a bargain, there are some problems with shopping for supplements using only price as a guideline. The difference in quality between different brands of supplements is often considerable. The supplement quality issue alone makes in important that you get professional help with your nutritional supplementation.

Herbs, vitamins and minerals are meant to be utilized by the body, to help with physiology and biochemistry. Think of wine or ice cream. The only physiologic concern with these products is taste, but what a difference between the quality of a cheap product and a good one. Compare the taste of a premium ice cream to the cheap store brand. Compare inexpensive wine to Lafite Rothschild. It should be obvious that the difference between the quality of vitamins and herbs should be at least as great.

Quality and bioavailability are important. Bioavailability has to do with how well the supplement is utilized by the body. There is gasoline in coal, you just can’t run your car on it. Similarly, there are ingredients listed on a supplement’s label that are as useless to your body as coal is to your automobile.

What about the quality of components? Take calcium, for example. Oyster shell has calcium, but the body can’t use it (just like your car can’t use the gasoline in coal). Calcium carbonate is cheap, but is not well absorbed. Calcium citrate is much more expensive than the oyster shell or the carbonate. A high quality supplement will use the citrate, a poor one will use oyster shell. There are similar quality issues for just about every vitamin and herb.

Many companies don’t actually produce their own vitamins, and they don’t test what they buy. Without testing, you can be lied to about the content of the product. Second, by the time the product changes hands several times, anywhere along the line someone can substitute cheaper or even phony ingredients and not be held accountable. The product can be contaminated when it changes hands. Sometimes the label claims are fraudulent.

Are the products tested for quality or for contaminants? Where did the materials come from? Most of the botanicals purchased in the US come from the Far East. There are manufacturing practices in some Third World countries that would surprise many Americans.

How is the tablet or capsule made? Bioavailability can be affected by something as simple as how the tablet is made. Many manufacturers use inert ingredients that interfere with the absorption of the nutrients. Even capsules can contain inert ingredients that interfere with absorption.

There’s a lot to know when buying supplements and herbs. When you learn about product quality, they will realize that self-treatment with bargain basement supplements is not a good idea.

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