Supplement your Knowledge about Supplements!

Stuck in a stinking busy life? But, your body needs all the nutrients in right amount to keep going. So why not pop a pill and make up for all the missing nutrients that cannot be taken care of through diet! This is why most of us reach out for vitamin and mineral supplements. However, there is some vital information that you must gulp before a vitamin pill. After all, you have to choose a supplement from a myriad of products. So what is to be kept in mind before selecting a supplement?

Powder, Capsule or Syrup?

After you have figured out what vitamin or mineral you are deprived of, you can browse through a range of supplements available online. These are being offered in various dosage forms such as powders, tablets, capsules, tonics etc. What makes them different from one another is the rate at which your body absorbs the supplement. If you judge a supplement by its taste-tablet or capsule may be the best for you. However, certain supplements are made as capsule or tablet to protect them from the corrosive stomach environment. Also, not all formulations of a specific vitamin are the same. For example, you need to decide whether to pick Vitamin D2 or D3 supplement for maximum health benefits. These days’ manufacturers have come up with pure supplements which offer high quality-hypoallergenic supplements for safe consumption. It is best to seek your doctor’s advice about the correct dosage form and formulations.

How safe is your Supplement?

When you buy a pack of biscuits, do you ever look for its safety warning or animal testing details? Certainly not! Similarly, even dietary supplements are treated as foods rather than medications by regulatory authorities. This means that supplements manufacturers don’t have to show their products safety before launching them in the market. However, the product can be recalled from the market only if it is found to be unsafe. Efforts are being made to bring supplement manufacturers follow certain standards called GMP or Good Manufacturing Practices like pharmaceutical manufacturers. The contact information of the maker is also mentioned on the bottle so that he may be contacted in case the consumer seeks any information.

Also, if you think the more the better is true for vitamins too, you are badly mistaken! Vitamins, especially fat soluble, must be avoided in high doses as they can be detrimental. Thankfully, extra amount of water soluble vitamins are expelled in urine.

People who must avoid the supplements

Supplements can interact with certain medications. Always consult your doctor before adding vitamins or supplements to your diet. The following people should avoid certain supplements:

  • Children younger than 18 years must not indulge in dietary supplements.
  • Those taking heart medications, diuretics, blood thinners, aspirin, immune-suppressing medications or steroid medications must avoid supplements as these drugs dangerously interact with dietary supplements which can result in grave complications.

  • A prenatal vitamin supplement is beneficial for pregnant and lactating women. But, some kinds of supplements can be dangerous for the baby. 

  • Supplements must be avoided pre-surgery as they may cause bleeding and other dangerous complications.

Be a smart buyer:

Keep these tips in mind before buying a supplement:

  1. Browse the net and look for scientific evidence about the supplement, its effectiveness and safety in published scientific studies. PUBMED database might be quite helpful in this.

  2. No product is a magic potion! Don’t get carried away by compelling descriptions which promise to ‘cure’ you from a chronic disease within a ‘stipulated time’. It is a combination of everything – exercise, balanced diet, proper treatment and medication apart from the supplements you take that gives you relief.

  3. Also don’t hesitate to contact the manufacturer to enquire about a specific product or data that the company has collected to validate the product’s claim.

  4. Keep a check on the lists of supplements that have been reported to have adverse effects. These lists are maintained by FDA or NCCAM and updated online from time to time.

Quick tips for using dietary supplements:

Now that you have bought your supplement after all the rigorous investigation, following points must be taken care of:

  1. Refrain from exceeding recommended dosages or take the supplement for longer than recommended.

  2. Store the vitamins and supplements in a cool, dry, dark place to maintain their efficacy.

  3. Always keep the all supplements out of the reach of the children, either on a high shelf or locked in a cabinet.

Always remember, that vitamins are always better on the plate than in pills and nothing can replace the goodness of food. Supplements can help you bridge the nutrition gaps in your diet but if you are regularly skipping your meals or following an unhealthy diet plan, you supplement in take will be rendered useless.

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