A Guide to Taking Dietary Supplements

With a lot of positive and negative information regarding supplements, it can be hard to determine if they should be incorporated into a daily routine, and if so, which types? Individuals who consume well-rounded, clean diets containing whole foods and little or no processed foods will most likely be getting needed nutrients through eating. However, people who are aging, who have health issues or who undergo a great deal of stress may benefit from additional dietary supplements. Certain supplements can support good health, prevent and occasionally reverse some degenerative processes.

Here are a few guidelines for supplement use:

When should I take supplements?

Because most supplements are absorbed better with food, the best time to take them is just before (or with) a meal. This also usually prevents heartburn, nausea and upset stomach that can sometimes occur with supplement consumption. Follow the directive on the label for the best and most comfortable absorption.

How much should I take?

When beginning a supplementary regimen, it is a good idea to take 1/4 or 1/2 of the recommended dose and gradually build up over the course of several days. This is a good way to determine how your body will react to a specific supplement. Do not take amounts in excess of what is recommended on the label without consulting your health care provider.

Should I take supplements if I am taking prescription drugs?

Always check with your health care provider before taking supplements, particularly if you are taking prescription drugs. Also, to avoid any possible interaction, don't take them at the same time.
What are some dietary supplements I should consider?

Vitamin B-Complex

This group of B vitamins including B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B7 (biotin), B9 (folate) and B12, provides powerful anti-oxidant protection to the brain, central nervous system and other parts of the body. Since they work best as a team these vitamins come packed together in one B-complex supplement.

Vitamin C

This important, water-soluble vitamin features over 46 different health benefits. Because it is not stored by the body, people need to regularly consume vitamin C to gain benefit from it. Because it is quickly used up, it is a good idea to take vitamin C three times per day.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is actually not a vitamin. Rather, it is a precursor of a steroid hormone that is produced when our skin is exposed to sunlight. The best source of vitamin D comes through exposure to the sun's rays. Generally, 15 to 20 minutes of sunlight on the skin of the upper body and face (sans sunscreen) is enough. However, when exposure to sunlight isn't possible, a vitamin D supplement can suffice. Vitamin D aids the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, helping to build strong teeth and bones. It may also play a role in support of a healthy brain and in the prevention of coronary artery disease and cancer.


Calcium is also vital for the development of strong bones and teeth. In addition, it is important for boosting metabolism, regulating PMS, and it may aid in the prevention of certain types of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Also, because one of every three females over the age of 50 develop osteoporosis, it is particularly important for aging women.

Selenium and Zinc

Due to poor farming practices and overuse of pesticides, many people are deficient in these two important minerals. When taken together, selenium and zinc produce SOD (Super Oxide Dismutase) and GTP (Glutathione Peroxidase), two powerful anti-oxidant and anti-aging enzymes. Because zinc can cause mild stomach upset, it is best taken with a meal.

Daily Multivitamin

Minimum daily recommended amounts of the supplements listed above can usually be found in a daily multivitamin supplement, along with other important vitamins and minerals. Taking a daily multivitamin ensures good, basic nutrition when diet is not enough.


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