Whether you’re gluten-free, vegan, or low glycemic, we know it can sometimes be difficult to find the right supplement to fit your needs.
Over the past couple of decades, supplement companies in the natural foods industry have cleaned up their act, getting rid of most problematic ingredients. “That’s great news for careful eaters and people with food allergies,” says Ron Hunninghake, MD, chief medical officer of the Riordan Clinic in Wichita, Kansas. “It’s easy to find supplements that complement the many dietary habits or restrictions people have.” Here’s the lowdown on what to look out for—and common pitfalls to avoid.
It’s easier to control gluten-free eating at home, but you have a higher risk of accidental gluten contamination when dining out. This is where supplemental dipeptidyl peptidase-IV (DPP-4) can help. DPP-4 is an enzyme that breaks down gluten. It won’t protect against a pizza or bowl of pasta, but it will likely counter small amounts of gluten, such as the low amount in many soy sauces. Most supplements don’t contain gluten, but read the label carefully anyway. Wheat free isn’t the same as gluten free. And some whole-food supplements might contain barley, rye or wheat—all of which contain gluten. Don’t use wheat germ oil, because small amounts of gluten pass through the oil-extraction process. And vitamin E? Don’t sweat it. Virtually all natural-source vitamin E now comes from soybean oil, which doesn’t contain gluten.
Vegan- and Vegetarian-friendly Supplements
Vegan and vegetarian supplements are usually clearly labeled. Still, read the fine print. Most—but not all—softgel capsules, which range from golden to brownish in color, are made from gelatin, an animal byproduct. Hard capsules may be derived from either gelatin or vegetarian sources, and companies usually state if it’s a vegetarian source. Fish and krill oils are derived from sea creatures, but the omega-3 fats are now available from vegetarian sources. Vitamin D2 is made from fungi, and most vitamin D3 is produced from sheep lanolin (the oil found on sheep wool). However, some companies now sell lichen-sourced D3. Bone meal and some digestive enzymes come from animal sources. Strict vegans are at risk for some vitamin and mineral deficiencies, such as vitamin B12, zinc, selenium, iodine and amino acids (which the body uses to make protein). Vegetables are poor sources of vitamin B12, and plants contain phytates, which reduce mineral absorption.
Blood Sugar Management
With an estimated 100 million Americans prediabetic and another 30 million with type 2 diabetes, controlling blood sugar has become a focus for many people. Monitoring carbohydrates and eating healthfully is crucial, but supplements can provide an edge. Silymarin, an extract of the herb milk thistle, has been shown to lower blood sugar and other markers of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Chromium is needed for normal insulin function. And so is high-dose biotin, a B vitamin that regulates genes responsible for carb breakdown.
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! Special thanks to Delicious Living
and Jack Challem for this article. All material in this post is provided for information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this publication; instead readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. The information provided has not been approved the Food & Drug Administration and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any illness or disease.