Vitamins, minerals, the women’s or men’s formulas, high protein mixtures, anti-aging, with or with extra anti-oxidants, herbal extracts! Where to start? If this wasn’t confusing enough a trip to the health stores reveals even more choices and more questions.
Do you get the supplements in a capsule or tablet form, what about the liquid form or the spray for under the tongue? What dosage do you take? Does paying more mean better quality? What does chelated mean or time released?
Some step by step tips for a general health supplement program that is not meant to be advice on how to improve a particular condition that you might have. But first I would just like to remind you, taking supplements is just what the name suggests, supplements to a good healthy diet, as insurance.
The first consideration would be a multi vitamin and mineral as the foundation to your program. It is considered a broad-spectrum supplement providing many different nutrients but in small doses. The advantage is that you can take a big variety of nutrients without running the danger of causing any imbalances.
Your choices are further complicated by, do you choose the one-a-day capsule or the one three times a day vitamins and minerals. This totally dependent on your life style and how disciplined you are. If you are the sort of person who basically only remembers at breakfast to take their supplements, then the one-a-day would be a better choice. However, it is generally better to taker lower doses more often, especially if you are good at remembering. They are often cheaper than the time released one-a-day variety. A general rule of thumb would be to always take your supplements with food. Always store you supplements way from direct sunlight in a cool place.
Reading the labels is important, compare a few and look to see if the label reveals the form of the individual vitamin or mineral? For instance if the label says Vitamin E and nothing to indicate what type of vitamin E, don’t buy the product, you need to bear in mind this a generalization. It should tell you if the vitamin E is in a natural (d-alpha-tocopherol) or synthetic (dl-alpha-tocopherol) form. The natural form is easier to absorb. Or is the calcium in the form of carbonate, which is more difficult to absorb or in a form like citrate which is easier to absorb.
At the end of the ingredients list you might see compounds you may never have heard of before, these are substances added to the tablet or capsule as binding agents, and/or fillers, and for the most part are nothing to worry about. This leads us to the question about tablets or capsules, again I am generalizing capsules tend to be better. Considerable heat and pressure can be used to produce a tablet form which can affect the nutrients.
It has been well established that pregnant women should take a multi-vitamin and mineral, the choice here has been made easy for you. Check out the brands that recommend their product for pregnancy. Folic acid (one of the B vitamins) has been considered crucial for women during childbearing years, that they should take 400mcg as a preventative measure.
Many women decide to take calcium supplements to treat or prevent osteoporosis. It is thought that pre-menopause women should take 1,000mg a day of calcium, and post menopause women should take 1,500mg of calcium a day. If you look at the amount of calcium in a multi-vitamin and mineral it is nothing like that amount. So if you want to prevent osteoporosis with supplements you will need to take an additional supplement of calcium any form other than carbonate. To ensure good absorption and utilization of calcium take a separate magnesium supplement of 400mg with your calcium supplement and muti vitamin and mineral.
Anti-oxidants have been well documented, helping to slow down deterioration and protecting us from pollutants in our water, air and food. They protect against heart disease, cancer, cataracts, strokes, memory loss, even wrinkles.
Anti-oxidants help deactivate free-radicals before they do much harm in the body. Inflammation is another big enemy to the body causing destruction and encouraging diseases like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis even wrinkles. A good anti-oxidant that is also a good anti-inflammatory is Vitamin C. It is worth considering taking 500mg to 1000mg of vitamin C with your multi-vitamin and mineral supplement. Finding a vitamin C supplement with biofavonoids (plant compounds) adds extra protection and encourages better absorption of vitamin C.
Taking supplements at night can be a problem for some people, for instance Vitamin B supplement in multi-vitamin and mineral formulas or in a B complete has disturbed their sleep. B vitamins encourage energy levels and this is one of the reasons.
Vitamins come in two main categories water soluble which are Vitamin C, the Vitamin Bs and fat soluble vitamins are Vitamin A, E, D and K. Water soluble vitamins are removed from the body quickly, whereas fat soluble vitamins are a different matter they are stored in the liver and fatty tissues, and eliminated from the body much more slowly. Taking large doses or more than is recommended of the fat soluble vitamins can cause a problem with toxicity.
Finally, to this foundation you could add a particular supplement to suit your individual need, for instance gingko capsules to help increase the circulation especially to the brain, a good anti-aging measure. Or you might want to consider adding garlic capsules to protect your heart and maintain cholesterol levels. Or maybe omega-3 capsules as an anti-inflammatory to reduce aches and pains.