The supplement conundrum: Should you take them? Should you not take them? Are you just wasting your money? Do they even work? How do I find a good vitamin? Most people are either for taking supplements or against it. For me, I am usually against taking supplements, they are expensive, annoying and 9 times out of 10 I usually forget to take them anyway. There are, however, very few occasions when I think taking supplements is a good idea. The first is when you are sick or feel like you’re about to get sick, the second is when you’re pregnant, and the third is if you are suffering some sort of deficiency. Those are about the only times I would highly recommend taking supplements. Why you ask?
When you get sick or are feeling like you are about to get sick, your body’s immunity is working harder than normal, so it needs a boost. I have always found it odd that when people are in the hospital, they get food that lacks in basic nutrition, such as jello, pudding, or chicken nuggets … what is that all about (that is another article for another time)?!?! Back to what I was saying. When you’re sick you body needs a boost to help it fight the good fight to make you feel better. Generally, I increase the amount of vitamin C and Zinc … Vitamin C because it helps with cell repair and cell regeneration, Zinc because it prevents viruses from multiplying and infecting other cells. So, it is something to consider when you are feeling under the weather.
With pregnancy, it’s not the supplements on which I am focused, it’s the prenatal vitamins. When a woman becomes pregnant, her body begins taking stored and consumed nutrients to grow that baby. This means it’s going to take all you have and more just to keep yourself going and well supplied with everything you need during that time of pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins are key in helping you with that enormous task. There are also certain vitamins and minerals that a woman needs more of when she is pregnant than when she is not, such as folic acid, which helps prevent spinal and brain defects in a baby. During the 9 months of a pregnancy, the body will burn an average 50,000 calories just making that baby alone! So, it is important that those mommies-to-be get all the help they can get! Thus, that daily prenatal vitamin can be a big help in making sure mom-to-be and baby get what they need.
There are going to be plenty of time in your life where the body just doesn’t get everything it needs. My favorite example is during the winter time. If you’re someone who doesn’t like a tropical sunny place year-round, chances are that during the winter time, your vitamin D level has been low. This is one of those times when I suggest people look into taking vitamin D supplements. The other time I have noticed is when people chose to be vegan or follow a raw foods diet. When people do this, they tend to cut off their vitamins sources. Most B-vitamins, such as B12, are found in things like meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products. The skilled vegan knows that many B-vitamins are found in beans, legumes, and oranges; but, for those who don’t, you can be depriving yourself of very important vitamins. If you’re the kind of person who is a very picky eater and don’t eat a well-balanced natural foods diet, chances are you might be deficient in something. You might also need to take a daily vitamin or supplement if you suffer from health problems. It is all based on the individual. My advice is always to try to get what you need from your food because, at the end of the day, you should be eating and drinking for nutrients and not calories.
So, what if you are the kind of person who likes taking a daily multi-vitamin just in case. You might be on a strictly limited diet and want to make sure you’re getting everything you need. Or, you might like how those vitamins make you feel. I get it and respect that I just recently started taking a multi-vitamin because I deficient in iron. The problem is it was very challenging for me to find the right daily multi-vitamin because they are not all created equal. Many vitamins that you can buy at the store are just expensive urine. They are very hard for you body to break down and they can sometimes even get stuck in your gut! So, how do you determine if a vitamin is the right fit for you. There are a few things to consider when choosing the right vitamin, or even a supplement.
When picking out a supplement or daily multi-vitamin, it is important to consider how much money you are willing to spend on it every month. Most vitamins come in 30, 60, or 90-day supplies. The vitamins that you can get for really cheap are, while very cost effective, might not be doing anything for you. Something to keep in mind is that if you’re going to spend money on vitamins, you are probably going to get what you pay for. I would never recommend spending more than $50 on a daily vitamin unless it really contains something you need and can’t get anywhere else. There are plenty of brands that offer decent vitamins at a reasonable price. Now, if it is less than $15 a month, you might just be wasting your money.
Some very large brands have found a way to make really cheap vitamins and supplements. The problem with vitamins and supplements is they are not approved by the USDA or any government regulaton. It is important that your vitamin or supplement company have a third-party provider whose job it is to provide quality assurance. Your supplement or vitamin should say that it has been tested for potency and safety. If you can’t find it on the bottle; it should say so on the website. The containers should also have an expiration date on them.
Just like everything else you put in your mouth, you should always look at what is in it. If the supplement or vitamin ingredients list is mostly chemicals, then it’s probably best to stay away. Things like food coloring, hydrogenated oils, lead, mercury, PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls, known for causing serious health problems), talc, magnesium silicate, and titanium dioxide are all things that should be avoided when buying supplements and vitamins. Probiotics are worth mentioning here, too; if you look at the type of bacteria in the probiotics; you want to make sure that it contains bacteria that is compatible with your body. So, probiotics contain bacteria strains that might have little-to-no effect on the health of your gut bacteria.
**Side note: you are what you eat, even when it comes to your vitamins and supplements. So, make sure if you are going to take something that it contains high-quality, well-sourced ingredients.
#4 Mixing with Meds:
If you plan to start taking a new vitamin or supplement and are on medication, it is so, so important to consult with your doctor or practitioner before doing so. Some supplements and vitamins can change the effectiveness of a medication or prevent it from working altogether. Some combinations can lead to serious side-effects if you’re not careful, so always always ask your doctor before taking anything new.
#5 Daily Amount:
Vitamins and supplements, even though they usually come in a 30, 60 or 90-day supply, can mean taking 2, 4, or 6 pills daily. It is something to consider when choosing vitamins. You might not be the kind of person who wants to take 6 of one vitamin every day, especially if you are planning to take a variety of supplements and vitamins. Next thing you know, you will be carrying around a pill box. So, always look at the dosage before committing.
#6 Are you a Solid, Liquid, or Jelly?
There are many different types of vitamins and supplements out there. A major factor to look at when you’re picking out the right product is the consistency of the product.
Solid: I never recommend buying a rock solid vitamin. Why? Because those are the hardest to break down and absorb. If you like taking your vitamins in pill form, then I suggest a vitamin with a gelatin coating that easily breaks down in water and that is filled with a fine powder. This way, once you swallow it, there will be less work to break it down by the stomach and more easily absorbed.
Liquid: If you’re the kind of person with a sensitive stomach, I always recommend going with liquid vitamins. One swig and you’re good to go! It is easy to take, easy to absorb, and you don’t have to hunt around for a glass of water.
Jelly: Next, there are those people who despise taking vitamins altogether, but they still want to get a daily supplement in. My suggestion? That’s right, gummy vitamins … the adult kind. of course. I really enjoy taking these because they are easy, taste good. and I can keep them on my desk to remind myself to take them.
I feel like there’s something out there for everyone who wants to take a supplement or vitamin. Just remember that they are not replacements for nutrient-dense food. No matter how many vitamins or supplements you take, they do not replace meals. It’s okay to treat yourself once in awhile, but don’t use your vitamins and supplements as an excuse to avoid your fruits and vegetables.
*If you’re going to take supplements and vitamins it is important that you: