May 28, 2018
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How to tell if your supplements are working

By Wina Sturgeon, Adventure Sports Weekly

Are you taking expensive supplements that go in one end and come right out the other, without being used by your body? Here’s how to tell whether you’re getting real nutrition, or just little more than a placebo.

People, especially athletic people, should be getting all the vitamins and minerals they need from natural food. But that’s hard to do in our modern world. Fruit is picked before it’s ripe and placed in cold storage, then allowed to “ripen” under florescent lights in a grocery store. The tree didn’t feed it to the finish, so that kind of fruit will have less nutritional value than a tree ripened piece of fruit.

The same with vegetables. Salad greens may have been picked day or even weeks ago, and kept fresh looking with water while the vitamins dwindle away. Everyone knows the difference between biting into a practically tasteless store tomato, and biting into the piquant flavor of one picked freshly from the vine.

Flavor equals freshness, which equals nutrition. But even if you buy cage free meat and grow your own veggies, you’ll still need to supplement your diet. If you’re a runner, for example, it would be difficult to get all the minerals your body needs to be its aerobic best. If you play power sports, you can only easily get the protein you need by putting your heart at risk chowing down red meat.

To get all the vitamins, minerals and amino acids your body needs for optimal athletic energy, you’ll need to supplement your diet.

However, unless you use prohibitively expensive pharmaceutical grade supplements, you can’t be sure the capsules and tablets are dissolving quickly enough to be metabolized.

The easiest way to learn whether a supplement is dissolving on its way out of your stomach and through your gut is also the most simple. Drop a pill into a warm glass of water. After 15 minutes, poke the supplement lightly with your finger. If it doesn’t collapse into a cloud of powder, if it’s still even partially in pill form, it may stay that way all along its journey through your body.

It’s easy to tell if a vitamin B complex pill has dissolved. It will turn urine a bright yellow. That yellow color actually shows which part of the supplement has not been metabolized. It shows what has — literally — gone to waste.

You can use the “symptom” diagnoses to gauge how much of any nutrient your body is metabolizing. Vitamin A, for example, helps feed the skin and scalp. If you don’t have enough A in your body, your skin may be dry, flaky and itchy. The scalp won’t produce the oils needed to make hair shiny and healthy looking.

Even if you believe you know what every vitamin and mineral does, research them again. A full review of each of these nutrients will give you details of very subtle effects that can help you diagnose whether you need more — or less — of a particular nutrient.

Remember, each body is different. Once you know that the capsules or tablets will dissolve, the next piece of knowledge you need is to know the “symptoms” that tell if your body is using the nutrition you feed it in pill form.

Wina Sturgeon is the editor of the online magazine Adventure Sports Weekly. For the latest in adventure sports and physical conditioning, visit Adventure Sports Weekly at

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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