How Important are Dietary Supplements?*
Have you seen the rows of supplements at almost every store you visit? Whether you’re at the grocery store, pharmacy, or Target, there’s no shortage of products to choose from. With so many supplements to choose from, it’s hard to know what you need and what’s safe.
Who Needs Supplements?
Most healthy adults don’t need any form of supplements. This is especially true if you consume a wide variety of foods, including fruits and vegetables. However, some groups are more at risk for nutrient deficiencies that could benefit from supplements.
As people age, their ability to absorb nutrients decreases. Older adults may need more vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D, vitamin B12, and calcium.
People who follow specific diets such as vegan, vegetarian, or even just picky eaters may lack certain nutrients. If you’re someone who avoids certain foods, it’s a good idea to research what supplements you may need.
Another at-risk category is women who are pregnant or nursing. Folic acid helps prevent specific birth defects during pregnancy. Nursing children may need more vitamin D than what’s found in mom’s breast milk.
Are Supplements Safe?
While dietary supplements may be regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, they’re treated as food – not medicine. This means that companies don’t have to make sure their product works, they can just say it does.
Ensure you’re buying your supplements from trusted sources and discuss dosage amounts with your doctor before taking any. You can have too much of a good thing – including vitamins and minerals.
Do They Boost Your Immune System?
Everyone has heard the claim that vitamin C will keep a cold away. But does the research support this claim?
There are nutrients that are important for a healthy immune system, such as vitamin D, E, C, and zinc to name a few. As long as your diet includes these key components, you don’t need to worry about supplementing them.
The best thing you can do for your health today is to eat nutritious foods, enjoy the sunshine, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy weight. Working with a health coach is another great option for improving your well-being. If you’re concerned about nutrients you may be missing, talk to your doctor about getting blood work done.
Disclaimer: Always check with your doctor before implementing new supplements into your diet.
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