6 Factors To Consider When Choosing Health Supplements
With so many health supplements on the market today, how do you know which is right for you and your particular needs? From different ingredients, formulations, and brands, it can be completely overwhelming when making a decision on how to supplement your health.
Your first and most important consideration should be whether you need a particular supplement. It’s super important to look at your health in detail before you randomly choose a supplement off the shelf.
If you’re looking to boost your health with the help of supplements, here’s what to consider before you buy.
What Exactly Are Health Supplements?
Health supplements are different from drugs. They are not pharmaceuticals, but usually contain dietary ingredients comprised of vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, probiotics, enzymes, and more. Today, you can find health supplements in a variety of forms.
Whether it’s capsules, tinctures, gummies, tablets, or powders, you are truly spoiled for choice. They are also easy to access, whether it’s through a reputable online pharmacy such as MapleLeafMeds, or at your local corner store.
But What Is The Role Of Supplements?
Overall, their purpose is to boost your physical and mental health. But the danger of supplements is thinking that they can replace a well-balanced diet. Truthfully, you can get everything your body needs from the foods you eat.
Supplements are only really useful if you are personally deficient due to a condition, illness, or medications you may be taking.
This means that the key point of a supplement is exactly that — it should only be used to supplement nutrients, and not replace them. Ultimately, you should still consume a varied, well-balanced diet even if you are taking supplements to boost your health.
What To Consider Before Buying Health Supplements
Before you place a supplement order online, here are some factors to consider first:
1. Understand What Your Body Needs
Everyone’s nutritional and supplemental needs are different. When it comes to taking the right supplements for your body, do your research first. Consider your age, what your diet looks like, any medical conditions you have, allergies, and your family medical history.
It may be wise to have a blood test done to assess what your body needs and doesn’t need. A blood test can show the types of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that may be missing from your diet. Supplements can also be used to prevent future conditions. For example, if you know you’re at risk of osteoporosis, you might want to supplement with vitamin-D.
2. What Medications Are You Taking?
Just because supplements are made from vitamins, minerals, and herbs, doesn’t mean they can’t be harmful. In fact, many types of supplements can interact with certain pharmaceutical medications you could be taking. Before you begin taking a supplement, check in with your doctor first whether it’s a good idea.
The same goes for the negative effects that medications can take on your body. They can leech your system of vitamins and minerals, so supplements can help counteract this. But always ask your doctor first about what they recommend.
3. Specific Diets and Allergies
While the safety of supplements is very important, this is not the only consideration to bear in mind. If you follow a specific diet, such as veganism, some supplements may not work for you. Many supplement ingredients and coatings are derived from animal products. So do your research beforehand to ensure the supplements you take match-up with your diet.
If you suffer from certain allergic conditions, it’s crucial to do your research beforehand, too. Many supplements contain allergens such as gluten, soy, and dairy. If you are intolerant to anything, make sure the supplements you take are allergen-free.
4. Shop Smart For Your Supplements
No matter how sleek or enticing the packaging of a supplement is, it doesn’t guarantee its efficacy or safety. So be wise when you shop and look at more than just branding and packaging. If you are interested in a supplement, do your homework beforehand or ask your doctor for their opinion.
Always look for an officiated seal-of-approval on supplements. U.S. Pharmacopeia, ConsumerLab.com, and NSF International all test to see if supplement ingredients are up-to-standard. Bear in mind that most supplements are regulated by the FDA as food and not medication.
Some products are also marketed as dietary supplements but may contain hidden drugs. Always shop with awareness and consult your doctor if you’re ever in doubt.
5. The Potential For Negative Side-Effects
You may be wondering how vitamins, minerals, or botanicals can be harmful. But some supplements carry their own negative side-effects, even if they’re not disclosed and you take the recommended dose. The reason for this is largely personal — certain supplements just may not agree with you.
Some potential negative side-effects usually include nausea, headaches, diarrhea, or digestive stress if you have a sensitive gut. Keep in mind that herbs and botanicals should be used with precaution. They can result in allergic reactions, elevated heart rate, and blood pressure. It may take some time before you find a supplement that fully agrees with your body.
6. High Dose Supplements Can Be Toxic
Be wary of supplements that sell in very high doses. The reality is that the body only needs a certain amount of nutrients to function at an optimum. These vitamins and minerals are absorbed as needed, while the excess is flushed out.However, consuming certain supplements in excess can become toxic over time.
Take into the consideration that Tolerable Upper Intake Level, also known as the UL of a supplement. This is the greatest amount of a nutrient that the body can tolerate before you experience negative side-effects. This UL varies based on your age and gender.
Men, women, and especially breastfeeding and pregnant women all have different UL recommendations. Another factor to consider is whether a vitamin is water or fat-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins tend to be quickly absorbed and flushed from the body, so they pose less risk of toxicity over time.
Fat-soluble vitamins take longer to break down and can linger in the body, which causes a toxic build-up. Keep an eye out for fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K which can lead to harmful side-effects if they build-up in the body.
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Health supplements are a fantastic way to keep your overall health in check. But always ensure you are taking what your body needs — no less and no more. Today, the health supplement industry is massive, so shop with a keen sense of consumer awareness to ensure you’re buying the best product for your needs.
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