Health food stores are full of them. Your cabinet may be full of them, too. But are they necessary for good health? Dietary supplements are a booming business. Making promises to help everything from weight loss, hair growth, and memory improvement to depression and sexual dysfunction, many people turn to supplements before trying medications.
If you’re new to the supplement market, it can be overwhelming. Vitamins, minerals, botanicals, and herbs in the form of capsules, pills, drinks, shakes, powders, and even energy bars all claim to give you something you need. The trick is determining whether your body could benefit from each option and how much to use.
Here is a quick rundown from the Fredericksburg boot camp on some of the most beneficial dietary supplements.
Most people could benefit from taking a daily multivitamin, as it is something of an insurance policy in case your diet is missing valuable vitamins or minerals. There’s a good chance you’re not eating the recommended number of fruits and vegetables each day, and a good multivitamin will pick up the slack.
As an added perk, there’s no harm in taking a multivitamin. Find one that’s made for your age and sex, and pop one a day or just on days when you know you haven’t eaten well. Just remember that it’s always better to get your vitamins and minerals from actual food, so eat your green beans!
Chances are you’re not getting enough calcium in your diet. Maybe you don’t care for dairy products or are lactose intolerant. However, calcium is an essential mineral at all ages for strong bones and healthy muscles. Thankfully for those who aren’t into dairy, there is plenty of calcium in fortified foods, beans, raisins, fish, and leafy green vegetables.
Unless you know for sure you’re getting adequate calcium in your diet, it may be good to take a 500-milligram supplement made of calcium citrate or lactate. Adults under age 50 need 1,000 mg daily, and adults over the age of 51 need 1,200 mg. Aim to get at least half of your daily amount from food.
Without vitamin D, your body can’t absorb the calcium and phosphorus it needs. Vitamin D has been shown to help reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease, certain types of cancer, and multiple sclerosis. It may also help curb your appetite.
Helpful and necessary as it is, most people aren’t getting enough vitamin D. This may be because people spend so much time indoors these days. Your body naturally produces vitamin D when you’re in the sunlight, but when you can’t soak up rays, you can ingest some vitamin D via salmon and tuna, as well as fortified milk, yogurt, and cereal.
For an added boost, take a 1,000 IU supplement of vitamin D each day in the summer and up to 2,000 IU in the winter.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Found in fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation in the body and decrease your risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Omega 3 is also found in foods such as soybeans, walnuts, flax, and canola oil. If fish isn’t a regular part of your diet, take a supplement to ensure you get a sufficient amount of omega 3 fatty acids.
Women who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant should take a prenatal vitamin that contains 400–600 micrograms of folic acid to prevent birth defects.
If you suffer from constipation, an occasional fiber supplement may help keep you regular. Don’t depend on a supplement for consistent regularity, but rather get your fiber from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
After a stomach virus or a round of antibiotics, a probiotic can help replenish the bacteria your digestive system needs for optimal health.
Before grabbing all the vitamins and minerals you can find, talk with your physician or personal trainer for recommendations. Choose supplements from a trustworthy manufacturer, and always inform your doctor about what supplements you are taking since some may interfere with medications.
When taking vitamins and minerals, herbs and supplements, the Fredericksburg boot camp wants you to remember to be careful! Your body doesn’t need 600 percent of the recommended dose of every vitamin out there. While you may need to boost your daily intake of certain vitamins and minerals, it is possible to have too much of a good thing.