You don’t have to look too far to find dietary supplements. It used to be that you could only find the majority of them in a health food store. But, due to their popularity, you can now find a large selection in most grocery stores and pharmacies.
But, just picking one off the shelf can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t know much about them before shopping for one.
It’s best to learn as much as you can about the various supplements, including what they are, what they can do, what you need, and most importantly, if they are safe.
I am going to share some information that I have learned along the way, so you can be armed with as much knowledge as you can, prior to looking for something to help you in your quest to improve your health. However, I am not a doctor, nor want to replace your doctor’s judgment. I simply want to give you some information…hopefully to approach them for a consultation.
What is a dietary supplement?
Let’s start with knowing what a dietary supplement is. It’s an herb, mineral, or vitamin that is taken to help improve your overall health and well-being. It can be found in various forms such as tablet or liquid.
Keep in mind that it’s a supplement, not a cure. The most common mistake when it comes to supplements is that some people hope it’s a miracle, for various conditions such as cholesterol, blood pressure, or weight loss. While they are designed to help with these areas, it’s most definitely not a magical cure.
For the highest beneficial results, look for those that are approved by the FDA…otherwise known as the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
The Role They Play
A healthy supplement is designed to replace vitamins and nutrients that are supposed to be in our body, but are often lacking…for various reasons from poor diet to poor health. You can find many of these nutrients in foods, but sometimes we need a little help in maintaining them throughout our system.
We go through stages in our life with illnesses and events, which can affect our body’s ability to absorb proper nutrients. Take a look at some of these stages and events, where a supplement might be found to be beneficial:
- Women trying to conceive
- Females with unusually heavy menstrual cycles
- Breastfeeding and Pregnancy
- Gastric bypass surgery
- Stomach or gastric diseases
- People who have difficulty digesting foods
- Lactose Intolerance
You might be surprised to see vegetarians on the list, because they often become vegetarian for their health. However, many vegetarians also omit dairy, as well as meats, which can lead to a lack of calcium and iron.
Again, talk to your doctor if you are concerned whether or not you are getting enough nutrition in your diet. They can determine this through simple blood work, or even through knowing your habits, your lifestyle, and what you have been through in your life.
They will also know if certain supplements can interact with your current medication, if you take any. Also, supplements can interfere with certain medical conditions, surgeries, and treatments. So, just ask your doctor about a supplement before starting it.
The Basic Recommendations
There are recommended amounts of the various nutrients, and your doctor can give you more specific ideas for your current health. However, the average recommended daily intake is:
- Potassium – 4,700 mg
- Calcium – 1,000 mg
- Fiber – 25 grams for females and 38 grams for males
- Magnesium – 320 mg for females and 420 mg for males
- Vitamin A – 2,310 IU for females and 3,000 IU for males
- Vitamin C – 75 mg for females and 90 mg for males
- Vitamin E – 15 mg
So, when looking for a multi-vitamin or supplement, keep the above numbers in mind. You will get some of this through your diet, so it doesn’t have to be the total amount.
As I mentioned earlier, supplements and their variations are bountiful. Take into consideration your health, diet, and lifestyle before seeking one out. A dietary supplement can also be found in the form of seeds or powder, such as whey protein powder, so you have some choices. Seek advice from your doctor or nutritionist before making that final decision on which one to take.
One last bit of advice; don’t trust any advertising that claims they have the miracle you are looking for in weight loss, health, or happiness. True and long-lasting health comes from a combination in self-discipline of diet and exercise, as well as education.