How To Choose Antioxidant and Vitamin Supplements

Girl taking vitamins

  1. Determine your needs.  While antioxidants and vitamins are good for everyone, your lifestyle and several other factors will affect your specific needs. You may have read about a vitamin that helps a certain condition or improves performance; you should find out if this vitamin has any side effects or contraindications for any medical condition you have or medication you are taking. For instance, Vitamin C is a good anti-inflammatory as well as an antioxidant, but often sets off gout flare-ups. If you suffer from gout, you may want to look into the C Ester variant of Vitamin C. Remember that any vitamin can conflict with medications or health conditions and should always be listed with any other medications you take. For many people, a good multivitamin plus some select additional nutrients often meet basic dietary supplement needs.
  2. Establish criterion so that you are not taking vitamins that you really do not need or that could even be harmful to you.  Consider your general health, your age and your gender.  Specific questions to ask yourself might include: Are there any specific ailments or conditions you are seeking to improve, such as eye health or cholesterol levels? Are you looking to gain weight or muscle or are you trying to speed up your metabolism? Are you seeking pre-natal vitamins to build your body pre-pregnancy or during a pregnancy? Establishing your exact goals will help you to decide on a reasonable supplement program.
  3. Determine the type of supplement desired.  Do you have trouble swallowing pills? If so, many vitamins are available in a liquid form to mix in with juice or water. Also consider coated vitamins that are easier to swallow and opt for a multivitamin to reduce the number of vitamins you will have to take. Finding the best type of pill for you to swallow (whether it is a gel, capsule or even powder to mix into a beverage) will help you stay consistent in your vitamin regimen. Realistically decide what form of vitamin you can consistently take on a daily basis, such as a powder vitamin mixed into a morning juice or smoothie or a vitamin pill you will take with a meal.
  4. Deciding how to find an antioxidant is much like finding any other vitamin but the type of antioxidant you will want and the dosage will likely vary according to:
    • The condition you are treating
    • Your individual preferences
    • Your ability to tolerate the antioxidant itself

    Antioxidants are helpful for skin, lungs, heart, digestion, liver and eye health. It is possible to take too much Vitamin C and E, but Alpha Lipoic Acid and the C Ester form of Vitamin C can generally be taken in larger doses even with many medical conditions. When determining what kind of antioxidant you need, evaluate your overall intended goal, since antioxidants are used for muscle health, stress, in tandem with cancer treatment, eye health, skin, liver and heart health. The amount of antioxidant appropriate for you will vary depending on your goal and how much toxicity you need to remove from your system.

    Alpha Lipoic Acid is considered the wonder antioxidant, even showing the ability to improve the liver that has seen too much alcohol. The medicinal needs for antioxidants, such as in cancer or medical detox situations, are different and often in higher doses than the antioxidants used to improve muscle function, improve skin and help regulate weight. Safe antioxidants to take in larger dosages include Vitamin C, grapeseed oil, Alpha Lipoic Acid and green tea. These can be taken in larger quantities without fear of overdosing, such as can happen with the antioxidant Vitamin E.

    It is important to assess your diet to see if you get enough fruits and vegetables or if you need to add more antioxidants. For most healthy people, the Vitamin C in a multivitamin plus an Alpha Lipoic Acid might be enough, but if you are trying to detox, such as while you are dieting or recovering from being sick or from too much alcohol consumption, you might need to add in more antioxidants. A person who is focusing on colon and intestinal health will want to focus on the antioxidant green tea, as it helps to build healthy cells. A cancer patient will want to focus on green tea and Alpha Lipoic Acid, since these both help purge unhealthy cells and build new stronger cells.

  5. Determine price rangeRenowned dermatologists Doctors Perricone, Murad and Brandt have touted the use of specific vitamins for aesthetic skin care and all sell expensive vitamin packets containing these specific vitamins and supplements. While these are all quality reputable vitamins, the same vitamins can be found at health food stores such as Vitamin Shoppe and GNC for a fraction of the cost if you know what to look for. This is especially true of antioxidants.

    While regular Vitamin C is readily available at any market at a reasonable price, there is a limit to how much can be taken without side effects due to the acidity, so this limits your use of Vitamin C in its traditional form. But Vitamin C comes in several variants:  Some of them are easier to tolerate than others, and can become a more cost-effective antioxidant when it can be tolerated in higher quantities. There is a sizable price range amongst the Vitamin C variants, so you need to shop carefully. For example, the antioxidant Vitamin C that is recommended by Dr. Nicholas Perricone is a form of Vitamin C that is called C Ester. C Ester is fat soluble Ascorbyl Palmitate, meaning it is absorbed faster and is tolerated better by your system in larger quantities, even if you have a sensitive stomach or health conditions like gout. C Ester is mostly just available at Vitamin stores or via celebrity doctor brands of vitamin regimen packs. It is more expensive and more difficult to find than regular Vitamin C, but you can take it in larger quantities with no side effects so it is a more beneficial form of Vitamin C than the standard Vitamin C you can get at the market.

    Since Vitamin C is such as great antioxidant and is key to rebuilding the collagen that makes your skin stay youthful, many people would like to take as much as they can tolerate. But since it is so effective and few people know what it is, some of the celebrity doctor's skin care lines sell the C Ester kind of Vitamin C as a very expensive exclusive supplement. For example, Dr. Perricone sells the C Ester form of Vitamin C at Sephora and other high-end beauty retailers for $30 per sixty 250 mg capsules. You can get C Ester much cheaper. The technical name for the C Ester form of Vitamin C is Ascorbyl Palmitate (fat soluble Vitamin C Ester). Vitamin Shoppe sells C Ester Ascorbyl Palmitate (fat Soluble Vitamin C Ester) for $6.38 per forty-five 500 mg capsules. So make sure when you shop for the C Ester form of Vitamin C that you do not get confused and buy Ester C, which is just regular Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a staple in any antioxidant vitamin program, so consider stocking up at vitamin sales, such as Puritan's Pride twice a year sale and GNC's discount Tuesdays.

  6. Find a brand you like and trust.  In addition to ease of availability, it is important to find a brand you consider reputable. You can find out about any vitamin company's reputation via the Better Business Bureau and sales personnel usually have recommendations of good brands. You can also get a sense of a company by reading the vitamin bottle to see what kind of filler ingredients are in their vitamins. Some well-known reputable brands that are readily available at pharmacies and supermarket, have limited additive ingredients, and are reasonably priced include Nature's Made Vitamins, Vitamin Shoppe, and GNC. Online and catalog brands that are well-established include Swanson Vitamins and Puritan's Pride. Nature's Made, in addition, has a few variants of very complete multivitamins geared toward specific needs such as pregnancy, women's health, men's health, eye health, a general antioxidant multivitamin, and a multivitamin specifically for aging.
  7. Make sure there are no medication, medical condition or allergy conflicts with your supplement. Just because it is natural does not mean a vitamin cannot alter, enhance or conflict with a medication you are already taking. Another aspect to consider is if you have any allergies.  Check the label for the use of soy, shellfish, yeast or gluten, all of which frequently appear in many vitamin brands' lists of ingredients. Also common in even health food store vitamin brands are the use of artificial colors, flavors, preservatives and chemical solvents. If you check the Supplement Facts ingredients and calorie count on vitamins, you will notice a surprising number of vitamin brands contain a fair amount of sugar and some contain salt.

    Some medications elevate the natural levels within your system so that you may have to deliberately avoid a multivitamin with select nutrients. For example, some high blood pressure medications and some diuretics may cause a potassium elevation or depletion. Some vitamins may cause blood thinning. If you are going to be having any surgery, discuss with your surgeon if these supplements should be avoided beforehand. If you are on any medications like beta-blockers, or heart or blood pressure related medicines, and you are considering starting a supplement program, you may wish to consult with a physician and have some blood work to establish if certain vitamins and supplements should be avoided.

  8. Augment or change the regimen as your needs change.  While you may not be ready for a geriatric supplement in your thirties, your body does cease or slow down production of many important nutrients in your twenties and thirties, and these facts should be considered in conjunction with your dietary needs. Pregnancy or changes in diet alter your vitamin intake needs as can exercise programs or a medical condition. 


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