Ranking the best prenatal vitamins of 2016 (review)

If you’re pregnant (or even considering it) and worried about your baby’s health, taking a prenatal vitamin might be something you want to think about to ensure you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals your baby needs to develop properly.

Here are the best prenatal vitamins on the market, ranked.  Afterwards, we’ll look in more detail about how a prenatal vitamin can help you.

1.  Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal

prenatal-1The well-selling prenatal vitamin from Garden of Life focuses on deriving its vitamins and minerals from natural sources, and providing them in chelated forms whenever possible.

The ingredients have everything you’ll need in a prenatal vitamin: 80 mg of folate, 2 mg of vitamin B6, and 6 mcg of vitamin B12.

The amount of vitamin B12 may need to be higher, as some scientific sources advocate for raising the recommended B12 intake, as low blood levels of B12 are associated with birth defects.

Garden of Life Vitamin Code lives up to its “raw” namesake with the inclusion of its fruit and vegetable blend as well as its sprout blend.  These include the extracts of dozens of different fruits, vegetables, and sprouted seeds.  These are included to shore up any deficiencies in dietary intake of fruits, vegetables, and other healthy plant sources of nutrients.

There is also a blend of ginger root and active bacterial culture to aid the morning sickness and stomach troubles that sometimes accompany pregnancy.

Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal does pretty well on independent testing of the quality of its ingredients.  Though four of its vitamins were off from their label stated amounts by over ten percent, the worst of these (folate) was only off by about a third, and it was an excess, not a shortage.

Especially if you are drawn to the fruit, vegetable, and sprout concentrates, Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal is a great choice for a prenatal vitamin. [click to continue…]

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Ranking the best pre-workout supplements of 2016 (review)

You know you need to hit the gym for a workout but you’re not really feeling it. What do you do?

A pre-workout supplement is the best way to ensure you are energized and motivated for your next gym session, cardio workout, or competition event. They also help prepare your body for exercise with lots of vitamins and minerals.

Here are the best pre-workout supplements for peak workout performance and optimal post-workout recovery.  Afterwards, we’ll dive in to the details on how a pre-workout supplement can help you out.

1.  Sheer Strength Pre-Workout

Exclusive Mockups for Branding and Packaging DesignThis powder form supplement is all about strength, power, and explosiveness.  Its formulation is fairly simple.  It aims to boost your workout performance through the combined action of creatine, beet root extract, beta alanine, and caffeine.

A few amino acids are included for boosting power and improving recovery as well.  Beta alanine works to improve your short-term muscle power and endurance, while beet root extract can improve your aerobic fitness through its nitric oxide producing properties.

With improved blood flow from the nitric oxide generated by the beet root extract, your cardio work will see benefits too.  Caffeine, of course, is a global performance enhancer, improving everything from task precision to strength to raw endurance.

Each scoop of Sheer Strength Pre-Workout contains 125 mg of caffeine, so it will be enough to get you jolted into action.  Aside from the above ingredients, Sheer Strength is pretty minimal.

There are no unproven herbal extracts or arcane compounds included on the off-chance that one might help your workout.  The only inactive ingredients are pineapple fruit powder (for flavoring), natural flavors, citric acid, and silicon dioxide.

The powder is also naturally sweetened by stevia extract, a natural non-caloric sweetener. [click to continue…]

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Ranking the best zinc supplements of 2016 (review)

Zinc is an important mineral nutrient that is connected with a well-functioning immune system and higher levels of testosterone and other muscle-building hormones.

Depending on your diet, you probably aren’t getting very much zinc naturally. Zinc supplements are a great way to ensure you have recommended levels of zinc in your body for stronger immune systems and improved muscle building.

Part 1 of this guide will rank the best zinc supplements on the market. After looking at the top 10 zinc supplements, Part 2 will go in-depth on how they work and why they are healthy.

1.  Thorne Research Zinc Picolinate

zinc-1Thorne Research specializes in offering supplements prepared with a little more care than your standard shelf-stocker at a pharmacy.

In the case of its zinc supplement, the company chose to supply the mineral in a chelated form.  Chelation is an alternative to supplying a mineral salt which dissolves either in water or in your stomach acid.

A chelated form of a mineral is already surrounded by amino acids, making it easier for your body to absorb.

This means that the actual amount of zinc you get per serving is higher, even for equivalent amounts of the mineral in the chemical constituents of the tablet.

The zinc supplement from Thorne Research supplies 15 milligrams of zinc, which is 100% of your recommended daily intake.

This is a boon for people looking for more realistic zinc dosages; other competitors sometimes offer frustratingly high doses of zinc.

To top it off, Thorne Research contains within four percent of its label-claimed amount, according to independent analytical testing.

Though it’s in the wrong direction (less zinc than advertised), the amount lacking is so small that it’s trivial.

These factors combined make Thorne Research Zinc Picolinate a top choice if you are looking for quality.

The sole drawback is the higher cost per serving that’s inherent for a more carefully prepared supplement. [click to continue…]

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Ranking the best melatonin supplements of 2016

Wouldn’t it be great if you could easily slip into a deep, restful sleep when you go to bed?

Melatonin is a supplement that promises just that: an easy, natural, safe, and effective way to improve your sleep length and sleep quality.

Here are the best melatonin supplements on the market, ranked.  Afterwards, we’ll dive into the details of how melatonin works and what it can do for you.

1.  Nature Made Melatonin

melatoninChalk this one up as simple and straightforward.  With Nature Made being a well-known brand, you know you’re not going to get anything fancy, but in this case, simple might be exactly what you’re looking for.

The Nature Made Melatonin offering supplies a moderate 3 mg of melatonin per tablet.  Given how cost effective this supplement is, if you need a higher dosage, you might as well just take two instead of look for a supplement with a higher per-tablet dose.

The melatonin is bound up in dibasic calcium phosphate, sodium starch glyocolate, and magnesium stearate; all of these are fairly common tablet constituents.

Quality is where this supplement really shines through.  Lab testing determined that each tablet contains within 4% of its label-listed amount of melatonin, and it contains no contaminants or adulterants.

In terms of cost-effectiveness, it’s hard to beat.  Each tablet is only a couple of cents—a small price to pay for the ability to fall asleep more readily when you really need it. [click to continue…]

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Ranking the best ginseng supplements of 2016 (review)

If you want to boost your immune system, improve your concentration levels, and feel more energized, ginseng is a great place to start.

Part 1 of this guide reviews the best ginseng supplements on the market and ranks them in an ordered list. Part 2 breaks down what exactly ginseng is and how it benefits your body. Here are the top ten ginseng supplements on the market, ranked.

1.  Auragin Korean Ginseng

ginsengAuragin is a best-selling authentic Asian ginseng supplement produced in Korea.  Each tablet contains 300 mg of Korean ginseng root, of which 8% are ginsenosides, the suspected active ingredient.  It’s tremendously minimalistic; ginseng root is literally the only ingredient.

It’s pressed into tablets and packaged; there are no preservatives, additives, or fillers included whatsoever.

Independent lab testing calls into question the true content of ginsenosides, however.  Analytical testing shows that the true content is more like 5%, though part of this might be the difficulties of detecting ginsenosides at low concentrations.

Regardless, other supplements are able to come closer to their label-stated ginseng content, so it’s certainly doable.

Partially because it’s imported from Korea, Auragin is not going to be the cheapest ginseng supplement on the market.  Despite this, many people believe that Asian ginseng is superior to American ginseng, albeit while being more expensive to produce and import.  This has a lot to do with its place in traditional Chinese medicine as a remedy for a number of health problems. [click to continue…]

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Ranking the best magnesium supplements of 2016 (review)

If you want to boost your testosterone levels or improve your heart health, a magnesium supplement might be the right place to start.

They are powerful, effective, and safe as long as they are taken as directed.

Part 1 will review and rank the best magnesium supplements of the year. Then, part 2 will break down how the supplements work and how to take them safely.

1.  Metagenics Mag Glycinate

mag-glycinateMetagenics made a name for itself as a prescription-style supplement company that offered high-potency supplements that were only available with a code from a doctor, chiropractor, or other medical professional.

Now, however, it’s possible to buy them directly online.  Does the quality still measure up?

Their magnesium supplement offering comes in the form of magnesium glycinate, a salt form of magnesium that’s not as well-absorbed as a chelate, but tends to be better tolerated than magnesium oxide (used in inexpensive magnesium supplements), which can upset the stomach because of its alkalinity.

The dosage is a fairly standard 100 mg per tablet, and the inactive ingredients are almost identical to a number of its competitors—cellulose, croscarmellose sodium, stearic acid, etc.

Its air of exclusivity still makes it a bit more costly than other competitors, so the value in terms of dollars per serving of magnesium is not as good.

Regardless, it does quite well on independent analytical tests of its contents.  Lab testing reveals that it contains 105 mg of magnesium per capsule, meaning there’s an excess of 5% magnesium in your favor.

Accuracy on this order of magnitude is good news if you’re worried about the overall quality of the product. [click to continue…]

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Ranking the best fish oil supplements of 2016 (review)

If there’s anything resembling a super-supplement for your health, it’s got to be fish oil.  It’s a powerful way to boost your heart health and improve your resistance to chronic disease.

So what exactly does fish oil do and what are the best fish oil supplements? We thought you might ask.

Part 1 ranks and reviews this year’s top 10 fish oil supplements in order. Part 2 dives into the science of how it works and what it does for your body.

Starting with our #1 recommended fish oil supplement:

1.  The Vitamin Shoppe Omega-3 Fish Oil

fish-oilWould it surprise you if you found out that a fish oil supplement made by a brick-and-mortar supplement shop with wide name recognition was both inexpensive and effective? Well, it’s true!

The Vitamin Shoppe’s fish oil offering provides over 1000 mg of omega 3 per softgel, and of this, 680 mg are EPA and 260 mg are DHA.  These combine to make up 76% of the fish oil in the supplement, much higher than many of its competitors.

Its mercury levels are also tremendously low, as are its levels of PCB toxins.

The one drawback of The Vitamin Shoppe’s fish oil offering is its labeling.  Though the omega 3, DHA, and EPA contents are high, the listed amounts on the label don’t quite correspond to what you get in the supplement.

In this case, you actually get a little more than you’re paying for, but inaccuracies like this might be a sign that the quality control is not quite what it should be.

As for other ingredients, there are essentially none! Aside from the fish oil, the only things The Vitamin Shoppe Omega 3 Fish Oil supplement contains are gelatin, glycerin, water, and a bit of vitamin E to act as a preservative.

When it comes to value and quality, it’s very hard to beat this product. [click to continue…]

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Ranking the best energy drinks of 2016 (review)

Feeling drained by your lunch break? Yeah, me too.

Before you go straight for the coffee, consider a more potent beverage, the energy drink. They’re tasty, refreshing, and will get you more wired than any double expresso shot drink you can think of.

First, we’ll review the 10 best energy drinks on the market.  Then, we’ll dive deeper into how they work to help you feel energized and focused.

1.  SK Energy Shot

sk-energySK Energy shot follows the familiar formula for shot-style energy supplements: 210 mg of caffeine per bottle, plus several B vitamins in a high dose and a proprietary energy blend, which includes amino acids and green tea extract.  As is often the case, the exact ratios of the ingredients in the energy blend are not disclosed on the label, so it’s hard to compare brand to brand.

The balance of the contents of SK Energy Shot are made up of natural flavors the synthetic sweetener sucralose, and a few preservatives.

In cases like this, personal experience may be your best barometer.  If you decide to use energy shots, you might need to “shop around” and try a few different brands to see how each of them affects you.  Reading reviews online can only help so much; you need to remember that the same supplement can affect different people in different ways.

Like some of its competitors, SK Energy Shot contains 30 mg of niacin per bottle, so if you want to avoid itching, flushing, and tingling, avoid taking it with any other supplement that contains niacin. [click to continue…]

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