Those TV commercials are not wrong. Your body needs vitamins A to zinc to function well. At some point in your life, you may have taken a supplement to address a particular health issue. Whether it is under your doctor’s orders or you want to be more proactive about it, taking a pill can improve your overall health. Vitamin and mineral supplements have been around for years. These are usually available over the counter or without the need for your doctor’s prescription. You can have heard of power pills from your family or friends. Yet, with many choices in the market, it can be hard to determine which dietary supplements would work for you.
Dietary supplements come in different forms. You can choose whether you want to take an IV infusion therapy, pills, powder, or liquid supplements. Yet, there are four factors to consider before choosing which supplement type to take.
1. Life stage
As humans, we go through different stages in life. As you go through life stages like pregnancy, menopause, and mid-life, your nutrient needs might have changed. What you took when you were 20 would not be the same as the supplements you will need when you reach 40. Even when you enjoy a balanced diet, there is a possibility for nutrient gaps for different life stages.
Pregnant and lactating women might need more Choline and Folate in their supplements. Those who reach the age of 50 might need more Calcium to support bone density. Your nutritional needs change as your life reaches a certain milestone.
2. Dietary intake
You must consult your doctor about your diet before taking any supplement, even if it is just over the counter. But if you are curious about your dietary gaps, you can check out the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to have a picture of which supplements your body needs.
While multivitamins, in general, are safe to take, some have extras like synthetic colorants. You can also be taking nutrients in your daily diet that can be enough even without these supplements. Overdoing some nutrients can impact your overall dietary needs, which is why it is better to be sure before taking anything.
3. Specific lifestyle
A balanced diet is always healthy, but for various reasons, some people follow vegetarianism, veganism, or strictly all-meat diets. People who fall under strict diets and lifestyles might have nutrient gaps.
Some nutrients can be found in animal products. Hence, people who practice veganism or vegetarianism might have low Iron, omega-3 DHA, Vitamin D, and Vitamin B12. If you believe you have these gaps, go for multivitamins specifically made for vegans and vegetarians. These products consider common gaps that green-heavy dieters need to fill.
You are unique, but your genes can affect how your body operates. Most of the time, vitamin deficiency runs in the family. Knowing whether you have genetic issues that can affect your vitamin and mineral intake will help you decide which supplements are good for you.
Other things to consider
After considering the four factors, it’s time for you to learn other things about supplements. One should be careful in choosing supplements, as not all are equal. Some are more expensive but less effective, and other vitamins are in simpler forms that boost your health.
While it is true that most multivitamins do not put your body at risk, some supplements can complicate your existing medication. If you have a certain condition like liver disease, or if you often go on surgeries, some supplements can be harmful to you. Pregnant women and nursing mothers also need to be careful in choosing supplements, as some are not proven to be effective in people in this particular life stage.
Although dietary supplements are not as strict as prescription drugs, there are still ingredients in these that are not listed on labels. Supplements like Vitamin K, Beta-carotene, and Gingko can pose risks if dealing with certain physical issues.
Moreover, dietary supplements should not be a replacement for treatment. These are great for prevention but not as a cure for something more serious. If you believe you have a serious health issue, consult your doctor first before taking anything.
Even if you take as many supplements as you can, a sure thing to be healthy is to have a nutrient-dense diet. Supplements are just supplementary. They enhance benefits that are already in your food. Even if you take as many pills, having a bowl of salad is still a healthier option. Supplements offer support to keep you healthy. But it is important to remember not to use these over-the-counter supplements to replace real food. Eating provides numerous benefits that pills cannot.