By Dr Sarah Brewer
If you see the word Opti in a Healthspan product name, it shows that it uses the latest innovations to support and improve the body's ability to absorb as much goodness from that supplement as possible.
Here, Dr Sarah Brewer explains what Opti means and the benefits it can bring.
What does Opti actually mean?
This part is pretty simple. The term Opti essentially means that the formulation of the supplement is optimised to ensure maximum absorption by the body.
What's the difference between a standard supplement and an Opti supplement?
An optimised formula is based on research into the most bioavailable ingredients. An optimised supplement will supply nutrients that are quickly absorbed, in a form that your cells can use as speedily as possible. The term bioavailability refers to how well a nutrient is absorbed and used in the body.
The ingredients in standard supplements may be less easily absorbed by some people, either because the ingredients are less soluble, or because your cells may need to do more work to convert the ingredients into the active form. When supplements are less easily absorbed by the body, it can take longer to obtain the positive benefits.
How does Healthspan apply Opti to its products?
Opti-Turmeric is a great example of an optimised supplement formula, as it provides turmeric in the form of liquid micelles that are more easily absorbed. In fact, over a 24-hour period your body can absorb as much as 185 times the amount of active ingredients via an Opti-Turmeric capsule, compared with standard turmeric powder. It is also seven times faster acting.
There's also Opti-C, where vitamin C is combined with fatty acids sourced from plants and bioflavonoids; the added ingredients act as carriers to help vitamin C absorb in the intestines.
Another good example is Opti-Magnesium, which contains two of the most easily absorbed sources of magnesium – magnesium citrate and dimagnesium malate.
Ensuring you are taking your supplements in the best possible way for absorption is just as important as remembering to take them in the first place. Follow these tips from Dr Sarah to make sure you are doing just that.
DO: Take after food
Most supplements are best taken immediately after food, to take advantage of stomach acids (just a few bites will do). If you've not eaten for more than 20 minutes, wait until you have a snack or juice.
DON'T: Take with hot drinks
Avoid washing down supplements with tea or coffee, which can bind iron and other minerals such as zinc, magnesium and calcium, to reduce their absorption.
DO: Listen to packaging
Always stick within the recommended dosage and make sure to check instructions on the pack to see if they say 'take with food' or 'don't take on an empty stomach'.
How does the Opti range compare to Healthspan's standard products?
Although the Opti range offers premium quality and absorption, younger people and those with a healthy digestive system will still absorb good amounts of nutrients from standard products.
Do standard products still work?
Of course. All Healthspan supplements are carefully formulated by experts to provide excellent nutritional value at the best possible price. However, we recognise that some people will benefit from the enhanced bioavailability provided by the Opti range.
Know what foods to take your supplements with
It's a good idea to be aware of which types of foods might help with the absorption of supplements. Some minerals require good levels of stomach acidity for optimal absorption, while fat-soluble ingredients, such as co-enzyme Q10, evening primrose oil, fish oils and vitamins A, D, E and K are absorbed more readily alongside foods supplying some fats, such as:
- Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring
- Egg yolk
- Full fat (five per cent) and semi-skimmed (two per cent) milk
If you're taking an iron supplement, it's also worth bearing in mind that swallowing it with orange juice can boost the amount of iron you absorb, as vitamin C helps keep iron in its most soluble form.
Dr Sarah Brewer is Healthspan's medical director. She is a GP, nutritionist and nutritional therapist and the author of more than 60 self-help books.