Magazines and TV commercials are full of testimonies from everyday people on how their lives were changed by this vitamin or supplements. And pharmacies and stores are stacked high with dizzying number of vitamins and supplements, all promoting health benefits.
Just look down the aisle at any supermarket and you can see it is loaded with different types of vitamins and multi-vitamins aimed at men, women, children as well as seniors.
With so many choices today, it can be a little confusing as to what types of vitamins are appropriate and when to take them.
If you are in good health and are just looking for vitamins to supplement your nutrition a great guideline to follow is to start with a multi-vitamin, says Pure Health managing owner Jody Balon. Then add calcium and Magnesium, B complex and omega-3 fatty acids.
“In most cases, it is a matter of personal preference as to how you take them,” says Balon. “But it is important to select your supplements based on what you really need. A program designed for health maintenance would be different from one designed to overcome a specific disorder.”
Natural and synthetic vitamins
In general, there are natural and synthetic vitamins. Natural vitamins are derived from food sources, while synthetic are produced in laboratories from isolated chemicals that mirror their counterparts found in nature. While there is some debate whether natural or synthetic vitamins are better for you, all supplements work better when they are taken with food.
“If you are deficient in a particular nutrient, the chemical source will work, but you will not get the same benefits of the vitamin as found in whole foods,” says Balon.
When choosing vitamins look at the ingredients on the label. Some things to look for are whether there are organic sources and an expiration date. If the label has no expiration date then look at other brands. If you have sensitivity problems, look for hypoallergenic products and avoid wheat, yeast and corn.
If a supplement makes inflated claims then be cautious. It is important to remember that most vitamin claims are not monitored by the US Food and Drug Administration or similar regulatory bodies from other countries. With that in mind, consider buying vitamin supplements from reputable health care providers, nutrition stores and whole foods markets.
“If someone doesn’t understand how a product is to be used, they should ask questions or read any available literature on the particular supplement,” says Balon.
If you are unsure, then don’t be afraid to call the manufacturer. Reputable supplement labs will have answers and documentation available for all your questions. Although it should be noted that some of the highest quality products are only available through health care providers.
Women who are pregnant, mothers who are still nursing or people with a chronic medical condition should always consult a nutrition specialist or doctor before taking any dietary supplements.