8 Easy Tips to Choosing the Right Supplements
You walk into a drugstore. You stare at the bewildering array of supplements crammed on the shelves. How can you possibly decipher which is right for you? Lucky for you, LadyLUX has assembled a short list of tips to keep in mind when choosing the perfect supplement, with help from Sharon Richter, a registered dietician and spokesperson for The Vitamin Shoppe.
Don’t be tempted by fancy names. “Store brands, such as The Vitamin Shoppe, are just as good as big fancy labels,” Richter maintained.
Watch your fat-soluble vitamins. Certain vitamins – A, D, E and K – and minerals are fat soluble and not water soluble, and are therefore more easily stored in the body. Be careful of these as they can potentially build up to dangerous levels, plus taking more than you need can be expensive. Many ingredients in supplements are added to foods such as breakfast cereals and beverages. Be sure to keep track of what you truly ingest.
Do a quick quality check. Look for the United States Pharmacopeia seal to prove the bottle’s contents have been officially tested and have the amount of the vitamin/mineral that the label claims it does. “It is difficult to determine the quality of a dietary supplement product from its label. The degree of quality control depends on the manufacturer, the supplier, and others in the production process,” the National Institutes of Health warned.
Get bang for your buck. Look for a pill that contains more than one of the vitamins/minerals you need. Be sure to check the expiration date so you can ensure nothing will go to waste.
Watch the fillers and binders. Supplements can contain eggs and/or gelatin, which can be problematic for strict vegetarians or those practicing kosher laws. If you have an allergy, be advised that some supplements can use wheat and corn as fillers and binders.
Note your gender and age group. Females should be taking calcium for healthy bones and vitamin D for muscular function, plus because it may lower risk for breast cancer. Young women particularly need folate whereas older women should go for vitamin B12, Richter advises. “Dietary supplements are not required by federal law to be tested for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed, so the amount of scientific evidence available for various supplement ingredients varies widely. Some ingredients in dietary supplements have been carefully evaluated. For example, scientists know that calcium and vitamin D are important for keeping bones strong and reducing bone loss,” the NIH cautioned.
Get a high dose of the essentials. Richter recommends exceeding the 100 percent recommended daily allowance on vitamin D, vitamin B12 and vitamin C particularly.
Don’t shell out more for “natural” vitamins. “Most synthetic vitamins are as good as natural. Usually not a big difference,” Richter claimed. In addition, natural does not mean safe. Consult with your health care provider if you are unsure. He or she can also advise on interactions with medicines.