5 Things You Should Know About SupplementsNov 11, 2022
Did you know over 60% of women in the US take supplements? Supplements are such a tricky thing. They cost money (sometimes a lot of money!), they're one more thing to remember to do everyday, and in the back of our minds, I think we're still always wondering, are these even helping?
Here are some tips for taking supplements:
1. Know if you really need it or not. A lot of supplements are recommended based on testing, like Vitamin D or Vitamin B12. Sometimes a supplement is recommended based on symptoms. Your body has lots of needs and so many companies will try to tell you what those needs are. Talk to someone who can look at you and make recommendations for you, as an individual.
2. Look at the quality of the supplement. This is really difficult since supplements are regulated by the FDA. Look to see if they're labeled with a certificate of analysis (COA) by a company such as NSF, USP, Underwriters Laboratory, ConsumerLab, or Banned Substances Control Group (BSCG). This tells you that a third party has confirmed that the supplement contains what it says it does.
3. Look at the dose: combined supplements especially sometimes have too little or too much of the ingredient you may need. Even a google search with reliable sources will give you a good idea of how much of a certain vitamin or mineral you should be taking. If you're going to pay for it, make sure it's worth it! And make sure you don't put yourself in harm's way by taking too much.
4. Look closely at proprietary blends. Proprietary blends can feel like an easier solution. Often they're labeled with things like "women's health supplement" or "adrenal support" or "fertility support". Sometimes it is more efficient to get a lot of support in one blended supplement. Just make sure you're not already taking something separately then again in the blend. Also check doses: sometimes the blended supplements don't have enough of any one thing to help. Don't ever take a proprietary blend without knowing exactly what you're taking.
5. Think about when you can stop taking supplements. Sometimes we find something that helps and plan to continue it forever. But ideally supplements are just that--a supplement for a deficiency, and when we optimize our health with good health practices, we may not need those supplements anymore. Be smart about your supplements. For example, vitamin D is best coming from the sun, so in summer, you may be able to save your money and not take a vitamin D supplement. But in winter when there's little sun exposure, you may benefit from adding it back in.
Supplements can be a really helpful adjunct to our health and sometimes they can make a big difference in how you feel and how you heal. But take them wisely, and remember: no supplement will replace a really wonderful lifestyle. We should always be aiming for optimizing our health first through sleep, body movement, nutrition with whole foods, stress management, and finding joy and fulfillment in life.
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