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Know Your Supplements

“ Supplements”, the moment you see this what strikes you, a lady popping up pills, a fitness freak exhibiting his muscles with protein supplements or a fat lady seeing herself before and after, or a cup of green tea or herbal tea etc.

Supplements are those essential ingredients that basically complement your dietary needs on a regular basis to keep ourselves healthy and fit.

Owning to sedentary lifestyle, we tend to be deficient in basic essentials like vitamins, minerals, greens etc. Even herbs are part of supplements as they do are rich in source of nutrition.

Do you start your day off with a mini “handful” of vitamins, minerals, and various other herbal supplements? If so you’re not alone; more than millions of adults globally use dietary supplements, with the most popular being fish oil, multivitamins, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin C, calcium and B-complex vitamins.

If you have any of these, or others, in your kitchen cabinet, you certainly want to be sure you’re using them correctly, not only to protect your health but also to protect your “investment.” Americans spend an estimated $25 billion a year on natural products including dietary supplements, but if you’re not careful you could end up flushing the benefits right down the toilet (quite literally!). Anything is excess is always undesirable, so is food supplements.

This is because certain supplements do better when kept in the fridge. Others need to be taken with food or are most effective in combination with other supplements. Others can even be harmful if taken with certain medications. Knowing what to do, and what not to do, when it comes to storing, combining and using your supplements will ensure you stay safe and get the most health bang for your buck.

Smart tips for Supplement use

Proper Storage

Right place to store your supplements ensure they remain rich in content.
Fat-based supplements, like omega-3 fats (fish oil), generally do better stored in the fridge. The cold temperature helps protect the fragile fat molecules from rancidity. Certain probiotics should also be stored in the refrigerator to help preserve the number of live bacteria (if your probiotic does not require refrigeration, it should say so on the label). All supplements should be stored in a cool, dry and dark place, particularly fat-soluble vitamins (like vitamins E, A and K), as they can be damaged by ultraviolet light and heat.

Take Fat-Soluble Supplements with Food

Certain vitamins cannot be absorbed by your body unless you eat them along with some fat. This includes vitamin A or retinol, vitamin D, vitamin K and vitamin E. Always take these supplements, as well as your multivitamin, with a meal that contains fat to ensure maximum absorption. Calcium carbonate is another example of a supplement to take with food, as your stomach acid during digestion will help its absorption.

Be Careful When Combining Supplements with Prescription Drugs

They can interact in ways you may not expect, and some of the interactions can be serious. For instance, supplements that can interfere with the blood-thinning medication warfarin (Coumadin) include:

  • Dong quai
  • Evening primrose oil
  • Garlic
  • Ginkgo
  • Ginseng
  • Vitamin K
  • St. John's wort

Before you take any prescription drug, make sure to ask your doctor and pharmacist, and read the label yourself, to be sure supplements you’re taking will not cause an adverse event or otherwise impact its effects. Other important interactions to be aware of include:

  • St. Johns wort may speed up the rate at which drugs such as antidepressants and birth control pills break down, impacting their effectiveness.
  • Vitamins C and E and certain other antioxidants may reduce the effectiveness of certain types of chemotherapy
  • Calcium may interact with antibiotics, bisphosphonates and blood pressure medications
  • Certain oral diabetes drugs, aspirin, antacids and antibiotics can affect vitamin B6 metabolism
  • Drugs, food, supplements with common metabolic pathways tend to affect each other’s efficacy

Combine Vitamins When Appropriate

Certain supplements are absorbed better when taken in combination. For instance, taking vitamin D along with calcium and magnesium can enhance the absorption of calcium, magnesium and other minerals. Taking calcium with vitamin D and magnesium may help your body absorb the calcium into the appropriate areas.

Similarly, vitamin C helps increase the absorption of iron.

Avoid of Synthetic derivatives

Certain supplements should be taken only in their natural form. For instance:

  • In choosing a vitamin D supplement, for instance, look for vitamin D3, which is the same natural vitamin D your body makes when exposed to the sun. Vitamin D2, which is synthetic, may be less effective.
  • Most vitamin E supplements contain a synthetic form called dl-alpha-tocopheryl, which is made from petrochemicals. Research suggests that natural vitamin E, d-alpha-tocopherol (or a natural vitamin E with mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols), is better absorbed and preferred by your body.
  • Betacarotenes are better alternative source of vitamin A

Avoid High-Doses

The mentality that “if a little is good a lot will be better” is dangerous when it comes to dietary supplements. Taking too much iron, for instance, could lead to liver problems and accumulation of fluid in your lungs. An excess of vitamin A can cause liver damage, while chronic overdosing on vitamin B6 may cause nerve damage in your arms and legs. As said earlier anything in excess is hazardous to health.

Follow Label Directions for dosing interval

Certain supplements require multiple daily doses, or work best when taken at a certain time of day. For instance, B vitamins should be taken in the morning for the best effectiveness and because they increase energy levels, which means taking them in the evening may interfere with your sleep. Magnesium, on the other hand, may support sound sleep so is best taken in the evening. 

Consistency – Consistent use of supplements ensures optimum results

Supplement Check list :

Before you add a new selection to your dietary supplement arsenal, do a little homework to find out the best way to take it. For instance, here’s a brief primer on calcium:

It’s best to take smaller doses of 500-600 mg at a time, as this will be absorbed most efficiently. If you need to take more than that, split the dose in half and take it twice a day. Iron should not be taken at the same time as calcium, as they compete for absorption. While calcium carbonate should be taken with food, calcium citrate is better absorbed on an empty stomach.3

Use Caution if You’re Pregnant, Nursing or Giving Supplements to a Child

Most dietary supplements have not been specifically tested in these groups, so be sure you are working with a knowledgeable health care provider before deciding which to take if you’re pregnant, nursing or giving supplements to a child.

In many cases, supplements can be a smart and safe way to add nutrition and a variety of health benefits to your lifestyle. In addition to the tips above, you can help get the most out of your dietary supplements by choosing only those that offer superior purity and reliability, from a brand you know and trust. The supplements you choose should go through a rigorous quality control process and offer guarantees of potency and purity to protect your health.

Sources:
1. Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health, Message from the Director
2. Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health, What You Need to Know
3. Mayo Clinic.com Calcium Supplements

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