Every body needs vitamins and minerals to function, but many people are daunted by terms used to describe these essentials. Can you decode the language on the bottle?

True or false?

  1. All vitamins and minerals are "natural."
  2. Chelated minerals are easier for your body to absorb.
  3. Time-release formulas are best taken without food.

1. False. It's far less costly to produce vitamins synthetically, so many vitamin and mineral formulas are not derived from plants or other organic materials. Typically, natural vitamins contain no artificial colors, sweeteners, or preservatives. Many natural vitamins contain cofactors, which are extra nutrients that complement the vitamin in nature.

2. True. Chelated minerals are surrounded by amino acids that make it easier for your blood to absorb them. Buy chelated minerals or eat your supplements with food for similar effects, as minerals are often naturally chelated during digestion.

3. False. Like any vitamin formula, time-release versions are best taken with food. Some nutritionists recommend that you space out vitamin and mineral doses throughout the day, whether or not you're taking time-release versions. The body is better able to absorb small doses of the nutrient; large doses often lead to waste.