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Supplements: Top Seven Tips
Walk down the supplement aisle at most health food stores, pharmacies and, increasingly, supermarkets, and it is almost impossible not to feel overwhelmed by the dozens - sometimes hundreds - of brands and combinations. Should you select a multivitamin/mineral combination or a dozen bottles of single-nutrient supplements or a multi plus a few additional singles? Should you buy natural supplements or synthetic? Regular or timed-release? A store brand or a national brand? Tablets or capsules?
If so, how much more? Energy formula? Stress formula? Women's formula or men's? It is such a hassle, there are so many brands and so many combinations. The choices are confusing, and few consumers know much about what they are buying. As a result, they often spend much more than necessary for supplements that may not meet their needs. Fortunately, you can take supplements without getting taken. Here is what I can advise.
1. Look For An Expiration Date
An expiration date is no guarantee of freshness, but it suggests that the packager understands that vitamins have a finite shell life. Steer clear of supplements within six to nine months of their expiration dates. They have probably been in the bottle for several years and may be past their prime.
2. Keep Supplements Away From Children
This is especially true for iron, often taken to treat iron-deficiency anemia or iron loss from heavy menstrual flow. Although - iron and supplements in general - are safe for most adults at the optimal daily requirement, it takes only a few tablets of a high-potency iron supplement to kill a child. An estimated 5,000 children swallow toxic doses of iron supplements every year; a few die. In the typical case, an adult carelessly leaves iron supplements on a bathroom or kitchen counter. Don't do this.
3. Don't Get Taken In By Hype
Want more energy? Stress management? Sexual ecstasy? Longevity? Immune enhancement? Freedom from illness? Some supplement labels promise their products can do everything except raise the dead - and maybe that too, if you take enough. Biochemically, vitamins and minerals play important roles in virtually every body system and process. So yes, they are involved in energy production, stress reactions, sexual enjoyment and everything else. But by themselves, supplements do not eliminate fatigue, alleviate stress or make you a great lover. Some supplements can help prevent and treat specific conditions, but brands that claim to keep you young, beautiful, energetic, mellow and sexy offer more hype than hope.
4. Think Food First
Supplements absolutely, positively do not replace food, and they cannot undo the damage caused by a chronically poor diet. Before you buy supplements, fill your shopping cart with fresh fruits and vegetables - and eat them. Buy organic produce if you like. But the data clearly show that any fresh fruits and vegetables help prevent cancer. Get your five servings a day, and then take your supplements as extra added wellness insurance.
5. Look For Beta-carotene Instead Of Vitamin A
The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, so for all practical purposes, they are the same thing. However, long-term use of vitamin A at doses above 50,000 international units a day may cause problems. Beta-carotene is non-toxic even at high doses, so stick to that. Beware of labels that say vitamin A with beta-carotene. If the label does not specify, you can't be sure how much of each you are getting.
6. Supplement Your Insurance Formula
Insurance formulas have breadth but possibly not enough depth for your personal needs. If you have a family history of cancer or heart disease, you may want to take larger doses of antioxidants. In addition, some minerals are simply too bulky to fit into a single pill. The optimal daily requirement for calcium is 1,000 to 1,500 milligrams a day, but it is impossible to get that much from an insurance formula. Magnesium is also too bulky to fit into a single pill. Women of childbearing age should take 400 micrograms of folic acid to reduce the risk of neural tube birth defects, but insurance formulas may not provide that much.
7. Forget Brand Names
All vitamins are essentially the same. Only about a half-dozen drug companies, such as Hoffman La Roche, actually make vitamins. They supply all the hundreds of companies that sell them. What you are paying for is basically packaging and advertising. Personally, I buy the cheapest vitamins I can find. They are just as good as the expensive brands.
Raymond Lee Geok Seng is one of the foremost experts in the health and fitness industry and is a writer specializing in body health, muscle development and dieting. He has spent countless of time and efforts conducting research and share his insightful and powerful secrets to benefit men and women all over the world. He is currently the author of the latest edition of "Neck Exercises and Workouts." Visit http://www.bodyfixes.com for more information.
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