Decode Your Supplements

Good Health LifestylesHerbal Helpers

Your favorite health food store has plenty of supplements. But trying to figure out which nutrient is the best – decoding them – can be tricky. Here is a codebook for three widely used and important supplemental ingredients.

Vitamin: B12

What it is: Vitamin B12 is also known as cobalamin because it contains the mineral cobalt. In supplemental forms, it is available as cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin.

Where it comes from: Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products, including fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and dairy-based foods. Vitamin B12 is generally not present in plant foods.

Main uses: Vitamin B12 helps regulate food metabolism, blood sugar levels, and daily energy. It is also essential for nerve signaling, mood, and overall muscle and cardiovascular health.

What to look for: B12 in the methylcobalamin form, a bioactive form that the body can readily put to good use.

Typical dosage level: 125 to 250 mcg daily.


Mineral: Iodine

What it is: Iodine is an essential mineral for metabolism, mental clarity, healthy DNA replication, and the thyroid.

Where it comes from: Iodine is naturally found in kelp, scallops, cod, sardines, salmon, and yogurt.

Main uses: Your thyroid requires iodine to create the thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4), and to ensure the conversion of this hormone into triiodothyronine (T3) as needed for metabolism. Without adequate iodine, people can experience weight gain, mental fogginess, and low energy.

Research suggests that boosting iodine consumption could improve thyroid function, lower the incidence of breast and prostate cancer, and promote overall well-being.

What to look for: A supplement that provides three forms of iodine—potassium iodide, sodium iodide, and molecular iodine to address various aspects of overall health.

Typical dosage level: 75 mcg up to 25 mg daily of additional iodine as a separate supplement.


Botanical: Ginger

What it is: Ginger (Zingiber officinale) rhizome (root) has been used in herbal medicine and traditional cuisine for centuries.

Where it comes from: Ginger originated in South Asia, but has since been cultivated around the world.

Main uses: The most common use for ginger is as a remedy for stomach upset, from morning sickness to post-surgery, and more recently, chemotherapy-induced nausea. It’s also an herb of choice for people dealing with joint pain because of its anti-inflammatory actions.

What to look for: An oil form of the herb concentrates ginger’s key compounds, notably gingerols and shogaols. A CO2 extract ensures a clean supplemental source that doesn’t damage the compound during the extraction process.

Typical dosage level: 125 mg daily of concentrated ginger oil.


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