It is not hard to find advice and suggestions (both welcome and unwelcome) as to how you should be taking better care of yourself. Whether you get it from the internet, a television program, an article, or your doctor, sometimes we aren’t sure what information we’re supposed to trust. What are we actually missing in our search for our personal health and well-being?
Before turning to what appears to be the easy way out, and stocking your shelves in hundreds of different forms of supplementation for vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, it must be said that eating healthy is the best defense against health conditions, illness and disease. Vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids are natural substances that your body needs to develop, function and fight off illness. Natural food sources for the nutrients your body needs are everywhere.
There’s no way around the benefits of a healthy diet. Period. Before you turn to supplementation, take a long, hard look at your daily nutritional intake and investigate what changes you could make to up the ante on your vitamin, mineral and nutrient intake.
While our bodies best absorb nutrients from natural sources, supplements and vitamins are an option for getting the nutrients you might not be getting from your diet for a variety of reasons. For example, you may not be getting enough vitamin D during a change in the season. Pregnancy is an occurrence where supplementation is often recommended. Strict vegetarian, vegan or low-calorie diets may also tend to be lower in key nutrients. In these situations, it is best to seek out supplementation to ensure you are getting everything you need to be your healthiest.
Since the first Nobel Prize for medicine was given for the discovery of vitamins in 1929, the supplement business has become a massive industry. Only now, because it is a multi-billion dollar industry, it’s more important than ever to do research when it comes to choosing a product that will become a part of our daily life. This is after all, your health we’re talking about.
Speak With Your Doctor
It’s always important to have your health care practitioner on board and fully in the know regarding any changes you are looking to make in your health care regime. Your family physician will help you assess any potential drug interactions, side effects, or dosage recommendations based on your personal health.
It is important to keep a written document of all prescription or non- prescription medications, vitamins, supplements or minerals you are taking. Update your family doctor on any changes that have occurred since your last visit. Bring this list with you if, for any reason, you are admitted to a hospital, so that the health care staff are also informed as to the details of your daily regime. For this reason, we also recommend that you simply carry this with list you at all times, in case of emergency.
Supplements and multivitamins can come in liquid, capsules, capliques, regular tablets and chewable tablets. Certain supplements are in pill form because they become ineffective, or even dangerous, if exposed to stomach acids. Some people need to take a liquid if they have difficulty absorbing vitamins or supplements from pill form, or even if they have difficulty swallowing capsules or pills. More often than not, it will be recommended that a serving is taken daily for optimal health benefits. Follow the direction on labels, unless your health care practitioner advises otherwise.
While you are searching for the vitamins or supplements that best meet the needs of your body, these are some good questions to keep in mind:
- Are there any clinical studies or research pieces that verify the use of this vitamin or supplement?
- What are the specific health benefits that this product offers me?
- What is the recommended dose for this product?
- How much of this vitamin or supplement do I have to take to reach the recommended serving?
- Which is more appropriate to my needs: a pill, capsule or liquid?
- How long do I need or intend on taking this vitamin or supplement?
- Are there any known side effects?
- Does this supplement or vitamin have interactions with any specific medications or foods?
- What are the best brands or manufacturers when it comes to quality, safety, proven effectiveness and concentration?
- 10. Will I need to stop taking this product prior to a surgery?
Do your homework
Some vitamin or supplement suppliers will sneak pharmaceutical ingredients into their formulas in an effort to boost greater results. This practice is dangerous as some pharmaceutical ingredients can have major adverse effects depending on your personal health. Pharmaceutical ingredients can also have serious drug interactions with other medications you may be taking. When shopping for a vitamin or supplement to work alongside your healthy lifestyle choices, make sure that you read through the listed formula, and that you also research and understand every ingredient included. Also, you should never invest in a vitamin or supplement that fails to provide full transparency regarding the ingredients and dosage information of its formula.
You can also check with the FDA regarding any supplement or vitamin you are considering as a viable addition to your health care regime, to see whether it has been subject to warnings, alerts, or voluntary recalls. If you suspect you’re having a bad reaction to a supplement, tell your doctor. You can also report your problem to the FDA at 800-332-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch.
The most important thing to remember is that vitamins, minerals and supplements are not replacements for a healthy lifestyle, but rather, accompaniments. There is no easy way out when it comes to achieving a long, healthy, dynamic life. Speak with your family, community, and health care practitioner about how you can continue to build and live – the optimal life!