Supplements are a great way to ensure you have all the building blocks for good health, as they will help fill any gaps in your diet. Many Americans are deficient in a number of important vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium, and Vitamin A, which can contribute to issues like sluggishness, low iron count, brain fog, and even osteoporosis. These problems are even more common for those on restrictive diets, such as those following a vegan, gluten-free, paleo, or keto plan.
In order to look and feel your best, you need to have all the building blocks that your body needs, but not all supplements are created equal – nor are all of them necessary for you in particular. Today, we’ll discuss some of the factors you must consider when deciding whether a supplement is right for you.
Identify Any Nutritional Deficiencies
First, you need to know exactly what you might lack to determine what supplements you should consider. During a general check-up, your doctor is unlikely to test for low vitamin levels unless you show definite signs of nutritional deficiencies, such as hair loss, bone pain, or slow wound healing; even then, they will likely look for more urgent causes through blood tests.
You can order nutritional testing at home to get an idea of what you might be lacking, which will help you decide which supplements might be most important to you. As some may be inaccurate, it’s a good idea to take tests from two different brands and compare the results.
Define Your Goals
While you want to address any particular deficiencies that might be uncovered through testing, you’ll also want to think about why exactly you want to use supplements. Are you trying to boost your brainpower? Nootropics might be a good choice. Are you having trouble sleeping, even when practicing good sleep hygiene? The common over-the-counter melatonin supplement can help out. Prenatal vitamins are essential for those looking to have a child, while gentle hormone balancers can assist those going through menopause.
Consider what you expect to get out of a supplement; then, using the results of your nutritional tests, identify which supplements will work best to get you where you want to be. Consider adding only one at a time over a period of months so you can identify if it’s having the desired effect.
Understand The Connections Between Different Vitamins And Minerals
Vitamins and minerals don’t exist in a vacuum: they work together to assist different body systems, which is why multivitamin compounds usually work the best. For example, many calcium supplements also include magnesium and Vitamin D, which work together in order to maintain strong bones and a sturdy cardiovascular system.
Iron supplements should include Vitamin C because this vitamin helps to improve absorption, and it also ensures that it’s gentler on the stomach. Biotin, which is a major component of maintaining healthy skin and nails, is often paired with Vitamin B12 or zinc because they also assist in keratin growth.
When you’ve identified a vitamin that you think will help you maintain your good health, you should research to see what complementary vitamins or minerals will boost its effect, as this will ensure that you get the best bang for your buck.
Choose A Good Supplier
As supplement manufacturers are not subject to the FDA, they don’t have the same standards as prescription medications, which means that you need to be especially careful about which products you use. It’s important that you assess the quality and purity of any supplements you choose through your own research.
There are many labels out there to identify good supplements, but these can be misleading, so you need to dig deep and see if there are any warning signs, like product recalls or complaints against the company. Choose those manufacturers who are transparent about the ingredients in their supplements, preferably with exact compositions and scientific research to support their claims.
A manufacturer should never make claims that their product can cure or treat any disease, only that it can support a healthful lifestyle in conjunction with good nutrition and plenty of exercise.
Talk To Your Doctor About Your Supplement Use
You may believe it’s not necessary to talk to a doctor about any herbal supplements or vitamins, but this can be a grave mistake – especially if you are on any medications. Some supplements can have serious drug interactions, such as St. John’s Wort and grapefruit extract interacting negatively with psychiatric medications.
Be sure to disclose to your doctor any supplements, including vitamins and minerals, that you may be taking so that they can ensure they benefit your treatment plan. You may choose to write out a list of all your supplements, including the manufacturer, so that your doctor can assess whether they are okay for you to take with your health conditions.
With careful research and assessment of your own personal health goals, you can make great decisions about the supplements you use, putting you on the path to wellness and well-being.