If you’re eating a clean diet, do you even need vitamins or supplements? (Just to clarify: vitamins are one type of supplement to your diet. Herbs, minerals, nutrients, and even fiber also qualify as supplements.)
Now, I’m not a medical expert of any kind, but my guess would be that you might benefit from some additions to your diet.
How’s that for a definitive answer?
Your healthcare professional can better answer that question for you, but if you’re like most of us, you’d rather not check in with them, and Google it instead.
I totally get it.
A lot of people prefer to do things this way, thinking that vitamins can do nothing but good for them, and so they make their own decisions.
For instance, during cold and flu season, a lot of people add or take more Vitamin C.
And Vitamin D has gotten a lot of attention lately because it turns out that most of us in the Northern hemisphere are deficient.
You might also want to consider calcium if you’re not regularly consuming enough dairy or other sources of it. This article from Healthline outlines 15 top food sources of calcium as well as your daily requirements.
But, in general, how are you making your decisions on which vitamins to take, which brand to buy, and how much to take?
And who is advising you on supplements that don’t fall into the vitamin category?
How Do You Know What to Take?
I don’t know for sure, but I can guess that you do pretty much what I do: if I have a problem that I think a supplement might solve, I ask around and do some research.
When my hair started falling out, I asked my stylist and my girlfriends. Biotin was the answer they all gave. Good enough. I bought the biggest dosage at Costco and have been taking it ever since.
And since I thought my hair loss might be related to thyroid issues, I did also visit my doctor and start medication for that. (Thyroid, stress, and lack of self-care, if you’re interested.)
I take specific eye vitamins because my dad told me to. Macular degeneration runs in our family, and I take them as (hopefully) a preventative measure.
The ones I take are made by Bausch and Lomb and the dosage is already set.
But let’s say you have a health issue and you wonder if a supplement could help. Or you hear something about a supplement you’ve never heard of and wonder if it could be good for you.
I did this recently. Last week I found out I have torn and degenerating tendons in my shoulder. Well of course, if I can stop the degeneration and help heal the tears I want to do everything I can.
Collagen and protein came to mind. Should I start taking them? Would they help?
I didn’t know anyone to ask, so I Googled. (I didn’t think about asking my pharmacist, but they are always a good source of information.)
Well, as this article points out, consuming collagen as a dietary supplement and thinking it will help my shoulder is like eating eyeballs and thinking my vision will improve. Gross but highly effective point.
No collagen or protein; visit to the orthopedic surgeon instead.
My point here is to use some common sense when deciding if you need something or not and how much to take. And do your research.
Who Do You Trust?
Sometimes when you’re looking for something to supplement your nutrition, you seek out others who might know more and can help.
My son-in-law has a degree and I’m embarrassed to say I’m not sure what it is, but it allows him to work with athletic teams at the university where he is employed. He not only helps with injuries but works on things like strength training and injury prevention. He has additional degrees and education as well and is a personal trainer.
I sometimes consult him about health matters. I try not to do it too much so I’m not making a nuisance of myself.
So maybe a personal trainer at your gym is a good person to ask. Just make sure that you trust them. Get an idea of their credentials and make sure they know what they’re talking about.
If they “happen” to be affiliated with a company that provides all sorts of supplements and drinks, take that with a grain of salt. Make sure they have your health in mind and not their wallet.
What about someone like your yoga instructor or your friend’s husband who’s big into health and fitness?
Maybe. Because they most likely have an interest in health, they probably know more than you and can give you some good advice.
And if you have friends who might have similar issues, they could be good sources of information.
Of course, if you know someone personally who works in the health and nutrition field, you can ask them.
My only caution, again, is to beware of someone who tries to sell you something, especially if it’s a company with an entire “system” of wellness products that they want you to buy into, or if they require you to become a “rep” in order to purchase.
If it gives off any multi-level-marketing vibes, run away!
What to Buy?
So you’ve done your research, talked to people, and you’ve decided on a vitamin or supplement for you.
How do you know which one to buy?
Most drugstores have entire aisles devoted to vitamins and supplements. And health food stores offer even more choices. They also have well-informed employees.
How do you choose?
First, during your research you should have gotten an idea of how much of this supplement to take. It’s a good idea to know that. You don’t want to take more than you should; there could be harmful side effects.
So one way to narrow things down might be to look only at the ones that offer the specific dosage that you need.
But there are two other things that are even more important that you should consider first:
- Whether or not the product has been tested and verified by an independent third party
- If the ingredients in it are reliably sourced from quality ingredients
So how do you determine this?
First, if a product has been verified by an independent third party, it will display that on the label along with the name of the company who did the testing.
Many times, that company is USP – the United States Pharmacoepia. If you see their seal, you can be assured that you are buying a quality product.
Example: my doctor recently put me on 100 mg of CoQ 10. The prices at Walgreens were crazy high, so I went home and searched Costco’s website.
Out of all of the CoQ 10 supplements they had, three had the USP seal of approval, and one had the exact dosage I needed. Problem solved, for less than $15.00 vs almost $50 at the drugstore.
As you may have picked up, cost is not always an indicator of whether or not something is better.
In fact, one of the best bargains out there is Nature Made. They have the USP seal of approval and they often run specials, like buy one, get one free. They seem to be a somewhat small company, so their selection may be a little limited, but they are a solid product. You should be able to find them in most stores.
Good to Know
I hope that this article has helped you in your search for vitamins and supplements and that you’ve learned something. I’d love to hear your comments on this.
This is such a big subject, and there is so much that I could add. Be sure to look for more in the future.
In the meantime, you might want to check out this article for additional information.0