Natural food or nutrients extracted from natural sources have been the popular keywords in search engines in recent years. There have been many dietary supplements indicated their ingredients coming from natural sources, including natural yeast B group, etc. It seems that as long as the word "natural" is marked, consumers will trust and buy. However, the effectiveness of a supplement is not only decided by the naturalness and purity, the key factor affects the efficacy is actually the structural form. Unfortunately, the information regarding the structural form is unable to be presented fully in Chinese, which makes it difficult for consumers to make smart choice when it comes to pick up right supplements.

Why does structural form matter most? Here are a few clinical evidences would help you understand :

1. The active form of folic acid, also known as (6S)-5-methyltetrahydrofolate glucosamine salt, is 10 times higher absorption rate than ordinary folic acid. On the supplemental markets, “folic acid” is the most used form. Even the ones derived from natural yeast are also the general folic acid, which contains only a small amount of active folic acid.

2. The fish oil exists in natural fish meat is in the form of TG; however, TG form must be converted into EE form during concentration process. Many fish oil supplements are presented with EE form. In fact, the best concentrated fish oil must go through the process of re-esterification, by which it returns to TG form. This kind of concentrated fish oil is called re-esterified triglyceride (rTG). In many studies, the fish oil of rTG form has been proven that its effect is higher than the concentrated EE form. A study in September 2010 confirmed that the rTG concentrated omega-3 fish oil has the highest bioavailability, 124% higher than the general natural fish oil (non-concentrated TG form), while EE form fish oil has only 73% efficacy!

3. Vitamin E is a common ingredient in multivitamin, but it is also divided into natural and synthetic form. Natural vitamin E is generally labelled d-alpha tocopherol, its common extract source is soybeans. On the other hand, the synthetic vitamin E is labeled as dl-alpha-tocopherol. The difference between the two forms is obvious in English, but not in Chinese (in which collectively referred to as vitamin E). However, due to the difference in its structure, the efficacy of synthetic vitamin E is only about 12% of natural vitamin E.

4. Compare the vitamin D2 from natural foods (generally sourced from mushrooms) with the vitamin D3 from natural foods (generally sourced from lanolin), vitamin D3 has also been proven to be more effective than vitamin D2 in many studies.

5. Vitamin K, which is common seen in calcium supplements, also comes in different forms. Vitamin K2 is considered better than vitamin K1. In fact, vitamin K2 is divided into the form of MK-4 and MK-7, and MK-7 has been proven to be more effective than MK-4 and Vitamin K1 by clinical studies.

6. Vitamin B12 is a common ingredient in B-Complex products, the Methylcobalamin form has a higher bioavailability and utilization in human than the Cyanocobalamin form. Methylcobalamin can remains in the body for a longer period of time and at higher levels than Cyanocobalamin. Even the vitamin B12 in natural yeast B group uses the form of cyanocobalamin. The price between the two raw materials is 130 times difference. Methylcobalamin is measured in grams and is priced in ten thousand NT dollars per gram, while cyanocobalamin is about 2000-3000 NT dollars per kilogram. Although the active form is expensive, it’s the guarantee of the efficacy.

The similar examples listed above are too many to mention. Basically, the lower the cost of the ingredients, the lower the price of the products, which is the reason the price difference of dietary supplements ranging from hundreds to thousands of NT dollars on the market. However, the effectiveness is relatively obvious. The truth is even the ingredients come from natural sources, the efficacy may not be the optimal. Therefore, focusing on the essence of nutrient – its structural form can ensure the best results. That is the mainstream in terms of choosing supplementation.

Next time, when you are up to buying some nutritional products, in addition to get product recommendations/reviews online or by some advertisements, please remember to look closely the forms of ingredients of the supplements you want to buy. By doing so, you can buy with a peace of mind and then really benefit from the products. For the sake of health, it is important to spend money wisely on the effective products. No matter how cheaper the product is, if it has low potency, it doesn’t worth it at all.