You’ve heard about the importance of taking supplements before, but what are they, and which ones should you be taking?
Dietary supplements are pills or possibly drinks that people take to help provide nutrients that the body needs, but is not getting from regular diets. Most supplements are designed to provide a combination of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals that the body needs, but are difficult for most people to obtain through food alone. Some people are able to obtain all of the nutrients they need through their daily diet, but most do not. Dietary supplements are intended to provide the nutrients that the body should have for everyday functions.
When looking to start a supplement program it’s important to know what nutrients your body needs to receive. Vitamins are the most common ingredient in dietary supplements, and for good reason. Vitamins are micronutrients that the body must have for a variety of functions. However, the body does not produce vitamins, so they must be obtained through the food we eat.
There are currently 13 different compounds that are considered vitamins. These include Vitamins A, D, E, K, C, and the 8 different B Vitamins. Each vitamin provides a different benefit to the body. When the correct amount of each vitamin is obtained, the body has been shown to have better defense against disease, improved functionality, and a general improvement in well-being.
It is important when starting a supplement program to know what nutrients your body is not getting enough of from your normal diet. With Vitamins it is possible to have too much of a good thing. You don’t want to take a supplement that has many times what your body actually needs. Too much of a vitamin or antioxidant can actually be detrimental to a person’s health. Therefore, when purchasing a multivitamin, make sure to look at the label. Determine how much of each vitamin is in the supplement, and where that relates to the daily value. Although the daily value is not an exact measurement of what the body needs, it is a good indicator. It’s alright if the vitamin amount is slightly above or below the daily value, as long as it is not multiple times more than the suggested requirement.
Also take note of the trace minerals that are found in the supplement. Once again, the body needs trace minerals in low quantities, but many times normal diet does not adequately provide them. A good multivitamin will provide some quantities of these trace minerals. This helps provide a wide variety of the nutrients that your body needs, but is not always getting from normal eating.
Unfortunately, dietary supplements are not totally regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Therefore, it is vital that you look for a few key things when buying a supplement. First, make sure that the company and or person who designed the formula is reputable. Although not mandatory, it is best to look for a supplement that is designed by a physician, dietician, or a company that employs scientists who know and study the compounds. These people know the effects of supplements, and what the body needs and in what amounts. Next, look at who actually manufacturers the supplement. If the company that designs and sells the supplement manufacturers it, make sure that they are cGMP certified. This an FDA certification that the facility abides by Good Manufacturing Practices. This also applies to supplement companies who outsource their manufacturing. Also make sure that the supplement is United States Pharmacopeia (USP) certified. USP certification ensures that the supplement has the correct ingredient and product integrity, purity, and potency.
Now you are ready to go out and start your own supplement program. It is vital for our bodies to obtain the nutrients necessary for normal functions. Most of us cannot obtain these nutrients through our food intake alone. If you follow the suggestions above you can purchase the dietary supplement that is right for you, and start your journey to a healthier and more enjoyable life.