Supplements – Good or Bad, Needed or Not?

I have been asked a lot recently about why I recommend supplements, why only certain mineral types and why I think the supplements people are coming in with during initial consultations are only worth flushing down the loo!

We are in difficult economic times, and we are also facing new legislation that would seriously affect the upper limits of nutrients we will be able to take. With that in mind, it is key to know how to get the best value for money and which supplements you will get most from. I will only ever tell you to take supplements that are designed well enough to actually deliver what we want them to – sadly unlike most of the ones available on the market!

 Another issue people ask about often is whether so-called Food State supplements are better. They sound good, like they are somehow closer to food and organic, but is that actually true? Are they in fact better than other forms of supplement? Read more below for a fascinating look at that question.

 I read recently a joke about calcium carbonate that actually is not that funny when you think about it. They said if someone knocked a piece of chalk off the cliffs of Dover and gave it to you, asking for £5, you’d laugh. But very many supplements on the market do exactly that as they include calcium carbonate (ie chalk) as the source of calcium. Not very absorbable, cheap to manufacture and not doing you much good. I saw a patient the other day who was taking a lot of it but couldn’t understand why tests showed her calcium levels were low and she was at risk of bone loss. Now you know why. You need better absorbed versions of the minerals if they are going to do you real good. The rest you may as well flush down the loo, or fold your fivers, flush them and save yourself the trip to the shops!

 Thinking how best to compile something that answers all these queries effectively, I came across the Nutrigold site, who have done it all for me! I know they are a supplement company and so have a vested interest, but out of all the suppliers I deal with, they are the most genuinely naturopathic and interested in your actual health. I trust them to tell the truth, and they back up what they say with statistics and references. Also, they have the backing and know-how of the professor/biochemist Lawrence Plaskett who trained me!

First, here is a missive from Andrew Wren, the company owner. I have put the two factsheets he mentions Do we really need to take a food supplement or are they all just a waste of time?” and “The Truth About Your Mineral Supplementation” onto the FreeStuff part of the eshop so you can download them whenever you like. Have a read – it is fascinating stuff and makes you really understand the sort of confusion-marketing that goes on in this field and the difference between good and bad supplements. Hope you find it useful.

Read down particularly to the financial comparison of two products, which shows how a seemingly organic ‘food state’ product actually turns out to be much more expensive because it delivers far less of the absorbable mineral. What is it they say? ‘The most expensive supplement is the one that does you little good.’ What’s the point in taking something that doesn’t deliver what it should? None. If you’re going to take a supplement, please make sure it is a good one!

 “As many of you are aware, the activities of the nutritional health profession have never been more in the media spotlight. So often the media reports that we have just discovered the latest wonder cure in the form of a new “medicinal compound” or, quite the opposite, they think we are potentially doing great harm to the nation. As we all know, the truth is often so much less dramatic.

There is no doubt in my mind that good nutrition is far more effective as a supportive measure rather than a curative and a daily top up of key nutrients is highly advisable to support long term health and wellbeing. The word “nutrition” is used so generally these days and rarely will a journalist dig deep enough to truly inform the reader about key issues, whether positive or negative; “What’s a balanced diet?” “What is a portion of the suggested five a day?” “What is a truly effective multi-vitamin and mineral”? Apart from the label claim, “What is the product’s real ability to deliver its promised nutritional properties?”

As a well known naturopathic practitioner and researcher into nutrition, I have spent many years reviewing some of the most wonderful, high quality, research papers on the subject of how nutrition can really support good health. There is no doubt that the research really stacks up and yet we still hear people of  influence saying that they haven’t seen any research that backs this view.
All we can say is that they can’t have looked very hard!


Could it be time to reconsider the products you use?


When companies promote the attributes of a certain nutrient, very few people know enough about the subject to ask the relevant biochemical questions like; “What levels of a certain nutrient were used in the research to achieve this result?” Often it is many times more than they are selling to you in the finished product and another very important question would also be “In what form was the nutrient delivered?”.

An example of this would be magnesium, so often this important mineral is offered in the industry as a “Magnesium Oxide”, a truly synthetic, manmade and inorganic form of the mineral known to be poorly absorbed by the body. It can even act to neutralize our stomach acid or act as a mild laxative. By contrast, magnesium Citrizorb, is a truly organic mineral that appears as it would in living tissue. Interestingly it is present in mother’s breast milk and is known to be much better absorbed than the cheaper oxide form. I also believe that Citrizorb magnesium would act very differently when it becomes available to the body.

There are also an increasing number of companies that claim that their products are closer to food than others due to their use of yeast and they adopt names that suggest some added product advantage. To my mind this is just not so. To produce yeast that is highly enriched with one mineral, you must treat that yeast with a concentration of it that is quite unnatural for yeast to encounter. The yeast does not then necessarily react in a natural way. Then again, there are limits on how much of the mineral the yeast can be forced to absorb into its cells. Consequently there are concerns about consuming so much yeast, a potentially allergenic substance. We feel that the term “food state” is a real play on words. Their data usually compares their nutrients to the worst-absorbed forms of nutrient on the market, e.g. isolated synthetic nutrients like oxides, or rock like carbonates. They would compare much less favourably with proper organic minerals, in particular Citrizorb minerals.

It’s true to say that food state minerals are in an organic form, but they don’t mention that so are many other forms on the market, such as acetates, citrates, aspartates and other salts of organic acids. An example of this is our natural, yeast free, low toxicity, high absorption, organic Citrizorb form of mineral. We believe that our Citrizorb minerals will outperform many of those claimed to be closer to food form. This applies both to absorption performance and value for money. They are also much less bulky and so can deliver much more of the mineral in each capsule or tablet.

As an example, by which to make the comparison, I offer the following figures concerning Cytoplan’s Food State magnesium (4084) which only delivers 30mg of magnesium per tablet compared to our 100mg per capsule of Citrizorb. In this example both forms are organic minerals, although we know that the Citrizorb form would be better absorbed than the food state form.

We can make a simple value-for money-comparison:

 Cytoplan “Food State” magnesium (4084) offers:

Magnesium (elemental) 30mg tablet = for approximately 18 pence per tablet. The standard consumer price, excluding special offers, is £10.82 per pot of 60.

Nutrigold offer a Citrizorb Magnesium 625mg of magnesium citrate (NC012), delivering 100mg of organic elemental magnesium. The cost is approximately 14 pence per capsule, £8.27 per pot of 60, excluding any special offers or discounts. Please remember that to produce vegetarian and vegan capsules is also a much more expensive process than producing tablets.

So it is easy to work out that, of the two, our product delivers 3.3 times more elemental magnesium for less money. Actually, the “Food State” product also costs more. So the price comparison per milligram elemental magnesium shows the Nutrigold product being 4.3 times better value.

 However, when you also take into account the absorbability difference the gap in terms of value for money is even greater. Wait for it, this is the punch line, as you most probably do not already know the extent of this difference.

Comparing both forms to the oxide, our product is 4 – 4.5 times better absorbed than oxide (here I shall call it 4.25 times), compared to the 1.83 times in the case of Food State magnesium. For the studies concerned see the references at the end, i.e. Vinson, regarding Food State and Lindberg et al (1990) regarding citrate. Note that the value of 1.83 times for Food State is the figure that is quoted by the suppliers of it.

 One can then work out a value-for-money comparison of the two products in terms of their real nutritional benefit.

 We can derive from the above that our 100mgs of Citrizorb is more than twice as well absorbed as the Food State magnesium. In fact, it is better absorbed by a factor of 4.25/1.83 = 2.3 times better. We are already delivering 3.3 times as much quantity. So, 3.3 x 2.3 gives us seven and a half times more nutritional benefit.

Now take the price difference into account as well, which adds a further factor to the value-for-money calculation. The price factor is 10.82 / 8.27 = 1.3. Due to this price difference, the value-for-money that we offer here at Nutrigold is 7.5 x 1.3 = 9.75 times greater.

To help our readers understand more about how to get the very best out of their multi-vitamin and mineral regimes or single minerals we are pleased to provide the latest newsletter from the Nutrigold Education Team entitled “Do we really need to take a food supplement or are they all just a waste of time?” This is further supported with a newsletter which explains exactly how our Citrizorb minerals are made. “The Truth About Mineral Supplementation”.

Should anyone have any questions about any of this you would be most welcome to make contact directly with me at or call 01395 227850 (Monday – Thursday).

Assuring you of our best attention at all times

Yours sincerely,
Andrew Wren
Managing Director

Vinson, J.A., (undated), “Comparison of the absorption of different forms of msagnesium, unpublished datav on human studies”, quoted in Natures Own / Cytoplan literature.
Lindberg, J. S., Zobitz, M.M., Poindexter, J.R. Pak, C.Y., “Magnesium bioavailability from magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide”, J Am Coll Nutr. Feb; 9 (1): 48-55 (1990).”

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