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Choosing the best garlic supplement is usually a matter of learning how to identify quality, paying attention to things like expiration date, and understanding the options available. Supplements come in many forms, from oils to pressed capsules. The one that’s right for you is probably the one that fits best into your lifestyle, dietary needs, and budget.
Identify Your Goals
One of the first things you should do is identify why you want to begin supplementation in the first place, since this will have some impact on the type of preparation you choose. Adding garlic to your diet can provide many benefits, from boosting your immune system to improving the health of your intestinal track by ridding it of parasites.
Garlic, which is known scientifically as Allium sativum, has documented antibiotic properties and was frequently used by soldiers in World Wars I and II to prevent many different illnesses, including gangrene. Researchers have seen great promise when using garlic to fight the early stages cancer and as a preventative measure against heart disease. Garlic also prevents plaque from building on the walls of the arteries, a condition that can restrict blood flow and could lead to serious heart conditions. Antioxidant-rich garlic literally destroys the free radicals that cause damage to cell membranes and contributes to the aging process. The specific goals you’re looking to achieve can shape the strength and type of supplement you choose.
Understand the Different Varieties
Many different cultures around the world have considered garlic to be a valuable nutritional supplement, and many have used it this way for thousands of years. While this popularity leads credibility to its use as a supplement, it also usually means that there are a lot of options out there, at least in most markets. Supplements can usually come in a capsule, tablet or liquid form. Clinical studies have shown that supplements made from aged garlic are best for most people. The fermentation process causes an increase in sulfur compounds, which are very effective when treating heart disease and other related cardiovascular ailments. They are also some of the most easily absorbed, which means they’re a good option for people who are just looking for a more generalized health boost, too.
The least effective version is usually garlic oil, sometimes marketed as “liquid garlic.” During the manufacturer's distilling process, allicin — a very important component of garlic — deteriorates, leaving garlic oil less potent than the other forms. In general, it’s best to look for a supplement that contains at least 180 milligrams of allicin. Some oils carry this concentration, but it’s relatively rare.
Importance of Quality
Another really important thing to consider when choosing a garlic supplement is quality. Make sure you select the highest quality — not necessarily the highest-priced — garlic you can afford, since better-made products are often more easily absorbed and more potent. It can be difficult to really assess quality from outside packaging and presentation, but there are a couple of things you can look for. Look to be sure that the supplements you’re considering have an enteric coating, for instance, which ensures that the supplements will not break down until they reach the small intestine. Supplements with this coating are less likely to upset your stomach, and are often more potent. Concentration, additives, and other ingredients or “fillers” are also things to look out for.
Whether you choose tablet, oil or an aged garlic supplement, be sure to check expiration dates. If the supplement is near or has passed its expiration date, which should be printed somewhere prominently on the label, the quality of the product might be compromised. It’s also usually a good idea to keep in mind that garlic is a potent medicine, and in certain dosages it can be comparable to prescription medicine. Check with a physician to make sure that adding these supplements to a daily regimen will not be harmful to you or interact with any prescription medications you’re also taking.
Thinking About Smell
The benefits of consuming raw garlic can be numerous, but as most people who’ve tried it know, these benefits often come with a pungent odor on your breath. When ingested, garlic goes through the bloodstream, flowing through every organ and sometimes coming through pores during perspiration. You can, however, use odorless garlic supplements to avoid this problem. Most “odorless” supplements have the same basic composition, but some of the smell has been removed through a chemical process.