Tip #8 – Supplements

Well, we’ve made it to Tip #8 of the Healthy Living Tips. Last, but not least, the very popular, and often confusing, topic of supplements. What are they and do you need them?

Supplements come in the form of vitamins, mineral, herbs, oils, potions, and tinctures. They are meant to supplement your diet, not replace key components of a healthy diet or make up for a lousy diet. Popping a handful of vitamins with your greasy cheeseburger, fries, and sugary soda will NOT help! But adding the right ones can absolutely make a world of difference in feeling better and reducing your risk of disease.

Do you need supplements? The answer to that is very individualized. It takes a trained medical professional, such as a naturopath, registered dietitian, homeopath, or integrative medicine doctor, one who has extensive training in supplementation, to be able to determine if and what supplements are right for you. Never let anyone tell you that you need supplements before they’ve taken a thorough health history, nutrition analysis, review of your current medications, and blood work that is specific to identifying any nutrient deficiencies.

Once a thorough analysis has been completed, your health practitioner may have a list of suggested supplements that might assist you in achieving your health and wellness goals. It’s up to you to decide if that is the missing piece to your health.

If you choose that adding some key supplements to your routine is the answer, the next step is shopping for them. Where do you go? Is expensive always better? Are some generics just as good? Please be aware that the supplement industry is NOT regulated by any agency. This is important to know, as there are no standards in place to guarantee the safety and efficacy of any supplement that you buy. Could your vitamin or herb be tainted with heavy metal? Yes. Is it possible that the supplement has less potency than what’s stated on the package? Yes. How do you know which ones to choose? It’s so confusing!

The easiest pace to do a little detective work is by visiting the Consumer Labs (www.consumerlab.com) website. They are an independent lab that tests many different brands of supplements and reports their findings about purity and dosing.

It’s so important that you do your homework before putting anything into your mouth, including prescription medicine. Do not buy into the savvy advertising you see in magazines and on television. Do not believe every self-proclaimed health guru. They’re all in it for the same reason – $$$$$. Find a qualified and trained nutrition and supplement expert, ask a lot of questions, get a lot of answers, and do your research.

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