The Science Behind
Dietary Supplements

As the name implies Optimal-Heart-Health is dedicated to the science of a healthy heart. A big part of this process involves supporting our health with the right dietary supplements.

After some study you decide that, like millions of other people, you could benefit greatly by adding…

  • Omega-3, or
  • CoQ10, or
  • Bonito Peptides, or
  • A high quality multi-vitamin, or
  • A number of other health bolstering nutrients…
… to your heart health regimen. Answering questions about what to take is part of the mission behind Optimal-Heart-Health.
But the questions don’t stop there.
Once you have decided what to take, other crucial questions must be answered. Questions like…
  • Which companies make the highest quality supplements?
  • How do you know you are getting what you are paying for?
  • Do all brands of vitamins work equally well?
  • What should you look for in choosing a supplement brand?
  • How are the best vitamins made?
  • Who is on the cutting edge of research?
Here are a few more questions that arise when considering those above.
Questions that can’t be answered on a label.
  • From where do the source materials for the supplements come?
  • How are these source materials produced and handled?
  • Do the supplements contain a rich source of phytonutrients?
  • How well will the supplements be absorbed and used by the body?
  • Have the source materials been exposed to pollutants?
  • Where can you purchase the highest quality supplements?
These questions – and others like them – are of extreme importance when considering which supplements to take. We are making an investment in ourselves, and those who love us, when we choose to add dietary supplements to our other heart health efforts.
But do we know which is the best investment?

The Very Best In Supplements

We are dealing with our health. If we believe dietary supplements are useful in the promotion of good health it seems reasonable to take only those that are of the highest quality. After all, if the supplements we take do little to help us, what is the use in taking them?

In researching high quality dietary supplements it becomes clear that some companies stand out among the rest. A few set the standard for all others.
How are these companies different?
Let's look at some of the important factors in producing the top dietary supplements.

The Importance of Phytonutrients

Any top supplement company should be very concerned about the importance of phytonutrients.

Science fiction movies aside, our bodies do not function and grow on chemicals. They flourish on food… whole food. One very important reason for this is found at the bottom of the food-chain; plants.

We all know that freshly picked, organically grown fruits and vegetables are extremely beneficial for health. Whether the topic is heart health or cancer, researchers and scientists alike tell us that fresh fruits and vegetables promote good health. One very important reason for this is phytonutrients.

Phytonutrients (or phytochemicals as they are also called) are nonnutritive plant chemicals that contain protective, disease-preventing compounds. In short they protect the plants from disease. As we consume the plant material we benefit from the protective qualities of these chemicals. To date they have been associated with the prevention or treatment of at least four of the leading causes of death among humans in the United States. These are…
  • cardiovascular disease
  • cancer
  • diabetes
  • hypertension
The research is impressive and will continue to expand. Phytonutrients will become increasingly important to the health industry.

From Seed to Serving

Any top company must carefully control every stage of supplement production all the way down to the ground that grows the plants.

Organic Farming

Organic farming is a must. Instead of relying on harmful sprays to control pests, nature should fight its own battles. Useful insects should be used to kill the destructive ones. Hawks can reduce crop-destroying bird and rodent populations. Sheep may destroy weeds through grazing. Other predators can be discouraged by using pepper spray.

These organic farming practices are more costly and labor intensive, but it is the only way to ensure that the crops which make up your family’s supplements are free of herbicides, pesticides and unwanted residues.

Choice Plants

The top companies will relentlessly search for new concentrates and better formulations. And since the best supplements begin with the best plants, this process literally begins from the ground up.

Researchers should constantly analyze alternative crops and growing techniques to identify plant varieties that provide optimal nutritional compositions. Why put so much effort into agricultural research when most companies don’t? One reason is…
There can be as much as a ten-fold difference in phytonutrient content between identical plants grown under different conditions.
That's Ten-Fold!

In the search for the most effective formulations, top researchers utilize a process called chromatography to identify and measure the beneficial compounds hidden within natural plant sources. The work is tedious and highly technical. However it is necessary to determine which plant species and formulation processes provide the best array of nutrients for the most effective supplements.

Living Laboratories

Companies committed to research are always looking ahead to determine which plant sources may provide the nutrients for tomorrow’s supplements. Some top companies use experimental tracks of land where scientists study new plant varieties. Some of these varieties will supply the phytonutrients of the future.

Here, researchers evaluate…
  • soil conditions
  • growing methods
  • harvesting techniques
…as well as other criteria that may impact the nutritional content of the crops. Most fruits and vegetables produced for the market are grown primarily for appearance and taste. These may not be at their nutritional peak. But supplement researchers are interested in one thing: nutritional composition.

One exciting new area of study is a process called phytonutrient induction. This is a process in which plants are triggered to produce enhanced levels of beneficial compounds.

Many of the beneficial compounds found in plants are actually produced in response to environmental changes. To capitalize on this fact researchers alter the growing conditions to trigger—or induce—plants to produce increased levels of beneficial compounds.

Processing Plants

The science of turning raw plant materials into nutrient-rich concentrates used in the best products requires special processing techniques and state-of-the-art equipment. Unlike companies which buy their raw materials from other sources, a very few can process their crops within hours of harvesting.

Immediately after the plants are picked they are dehydrated using carefully controlled temperatures and delicate airflow. This method preserves the heat-sensitive nutrients locked within the plants.

It also kills microbes that could multiply and locks in the natural vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other phytonutrients. The dehydrated material is then milled into a fine powder and mixed to create each blend.

Quality Assurance

Quality assurance must be taken very seriously. It is neccesary to employ a team of quality assurance experts dedicated to ensure that each and every tablet manufactured meets the most stringent quality standards.

The team should be composed of chemists, microbiologists, and technicians. These scientists patrol every operation. They test millions of tablets every month to ensure that every tablet measures up to precise specifications for…
  • quality
  • potency
  • size
  • weight
  • hardness
Production and Distribution

Plants begin to lose their nutritional value the moment they are picked. That is why eating fruits and vegetables that have been stored for some time is not nearly as healthy as eating freshly picked ones.

Because of this the few top companies concentrate, formulate and package their supplements immediately after the base plants are harvested. They can do this only if they own and carefully control all of their organic farms.

The best products are not manufactured and then stored for months on end waiting for distribution. The products that reach the warehouse should already be ordered, paid-for and ready for shipping. Companies that do this provide the freshest supplements in the industry.

Very few companies grow their own crops on their own certified-organic farms, process their own plants and then ship the finished products directly to their customers to guarantee freshness.
Very few supplements are grown, processed and shipped in this way.

Non-Plant Based Supplements

Of course there are some very important supplements that are not derived directly from plants. Two important examples for heart health are peptides and omega-3. These are extracted from fish.

Marine sourced products should conform to the guidelines of the Omega-3 Working Group. This group was founded under the guidance of CRN in 2001 to ensure a consistent supply of high-quality fish oil products.

The working group has an international membership including 24 companies that supply or market long chain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaenoic) and DHA (docosahexaenoic) globally.

The Omega-3 Working Group joined forces to produce a voluntary monograph or standard of quality for consistent high-quality raw materials. The monograph is intended to raise the bar for the quality of long chain omega-3 EPA and DHA products marketed in North America, in order to ensure greater consumer confidence in these beneficial nutrients.

What does the monograph do?

The monograph establishes stringent limits on contaminants that the fish may have been exposed to in their natural environment. These substances include…
  • Dioxins
  • PCBs
  • Mercury
  • Lead
  • Cadmium
The recommended limits are consistent with current or emerging European standards and with limits established under California’s Proposition 65. The monograph specifies a uniform standard of analysis, quality, and purity criteria for long chain omega-3 EPA and DHA.

In addition to this the monograph also identifies desirable limits for oxidants such as peroxides and anisidine. Oxidation is responsible for degrading the finished products. By limiting oxidation a long shelf-life for the finished products is ensured.

Leaders in Research

Scientists at the top companies are constantly exploring avenues for creating more potent whole food supplements. For example, much time should be devoted to studying international databases and other literature to determine which populations have lower incidence of certain diseases, and what correlation this has with local diets. Populations are compared to help suggest new dietary connections between certain foods and health.

Some scientists also search the world over to find plants with health benefits that could be used in their products. Once a plant is identified, however, it does not automatically become part of a the company's concentrate. A number of things must be evaluated before a new plant is considered for cultivation on a research farm. These scientists and farm experts must first:
  • Assess the plant's environmental requirements.
  • Determine whether the farming techniques that the plant requires for optimal growth fit within the accepted farming practices.
  • Test the plant’s different varieties (15 or more) in a cultivated test plot. The varieties are examined for the production of appropriate phytonutrients as well as yield, insect and disease resistance and harvestability.

Partners in Research

A couple of companies have had a long-term research relationship with Stanford University. The Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention (SCRDP) is a division of Stanford University School of Medicine. Stanford University is the oldest medical school in the western United States.

The SCRDP was founded in 1972, as the Stanford Heart Disease Prevention Program and began with the first community-wide heart disease prevention study conducted in the United States. The SCRDP mission is to improve the overall level of health of communities through interdisciplinary research into the social basis for important chronic diseases and exploration of the methods for controlling and eliminating such conditions.

One of the unique features of the SCRDP is that it not only investigates the basis of chronic disease but it's mission also includes a commitment to utilize the research findings to control or eliminate chronic disease through community education and outreach programs. Some of the key areas of research for the SCRDP include…
  • tobacco cessation and control
  • health communication
  • youth studies
  • women's health
  • successful aging
  • advanced nutrition research

Second to None

Many supplement manufacturers major in mixing chemical compounds to produce the results we read on the labels. Again, our bodies do not thrive on isolated chemicals. They thrive on whole food.

There are some companies out there that do use only extracts from whole foods. However, most of them purchase these extracts from third party companies which determine their own standards for farming, extraction, storage, etc. In other words the supplement company has little or no control over the quality of the raw materials or the science that lies behind them.

It is an enormous undertaking to own and control one’s organic farms, set the standard in manufacturing and set the pace in research.

Why all the fuss? Because not all supplements are the same. People who deny this fact simply have not done the research. We can’t read everything on a label. We don’t always get what we think we are buying.
I purchase supplements only from companies that conform to the stringent requirements listed above.
Therefore I am confident that when I purchase supplements for my family we are getting the very best that is available.

Where Can I Get Top Products?

Perhaps you can see a little more clearly why only certain dietary supplements are recommended at Our first concern is quality.

Take your time. Do the research. The products recommended here conform to the research and development standards listed above.

You can use the link below to receive information on purchasing Optimal Heart Health's top recommended products.

Click here for
Top Recommended Products