This is the last article of the series. We’ve looked at the ineffectiveness of synthetic nutrients, benefits of nutrient-dense foods, and explored how to improve digestion to make the most of what we eat.

Still, many people also choose to support their health with supplements. Here are some tips to consider when selecting a product.

Most tablets contain artificial fillers, glazes and binders. Due to their compressed form, they are difficult for compromised digestive systems to utilize – which includes most of us. The larger and cheaper the supplement, the more filler it likely contains. Time-release tablets have even more filler — generally hydrogenated oils — in order to prolong release.

Common additives to research or just avoid are: propylene glycol (anti-freeze), sodium lauryl sulfate (a carcinogen), sodium benzoate, BHT, BHA, tartrazine, titanium dioxide, polysorbate 80, microcrystalline cellulose, hydrogenated anything, and dyes. Many practitioners also caution against magnesium stearate, however, there is insufficient scientific research to support this recommendation as of yet.

Some people argue that the amount of additives is too small to worry about, but these chemicals are also found in our food, environment, and cosmetics, so it adds up. Also, many people have allergic reactions to additives and may not even realize it. If you are prone to allergies, or just want a higher quality product, choose products that are gluten, dairy, yeast, corn, and soy free.

By contrast, vegetable-based capsules, powders, or liquid formats are far less likely to contain toxic additives. If you are vegetarian, avoid gelatine capsules as they are derived from beef or pork.

Whole-food products like fish and seed oils, or concentrated plant and herb products are better utilized because they come in natural forms that the body can recognize — because it’s food.

Products that come in synergetic formulas are more useful and less dangerous than those with isolated nutrients. Also, higher dosages do not necessarily yield better results.

As an example, B-vitamins are not stored in the body, so any unused portion is literally flushed down the toilet. Instead, opt for lower doses to be taken throughout the day.

Choose supplements made of natural foods, herbs, or plant sources in vegetable-based capsules, liquids or powders (try the brands MegaFoods or Vitamin Code). And, if you have particular health issues, save yourself time and money by consulting with qualified health practitioners that can coordinate the best foods, supplements, therapies and lifestyle choices to serve your specific needs.

The old adage, you are what you eat is wrong.

More accurately, you are what you can digest.

And that goes for supplements as well.