Who Should Take Supplements and Why?

When it comes to supplements, it's important to be skeptical and do some research to make sure that the ingredients actually deliver on their promises. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't approve vitamins and supplements, but instead inspects manufacturing practices and intervenes if a particular supplement becomes a public health problem. Unfortunately, this means that some companies make dubious claims and get away with it; a recent consumer review found that 46 percent of supplements don't live up to their lofty promises. That said, some people may struggle to meet their nutritional needs with diet alone, either because of a health condition or their particular eating plan. Vegans, for example, have more limited sources of brain-boosting vitamin B12, as it is more commonly found in animal foods.

In cases like these, supplementation can be incredibly helpful in closing nutritional gaps. Pregnant women should also take a supplement of folic acid and other prenatal vitamins to support their baby's development and reduce the risk of birth defects. According to Danahy, most people could benefit from vitamin D. It's hard to get enough from your diet unless you eat a lot of salmon, egg yolks and fortified milk, he says. This is also a vitamin that most people are not deficient in, but many people have suboptimal levels.

Vitamin D has many essential functions, such as helping the body absorb calcium (which is essential for bone health), reducing inflammation and promoting mental well-being. Omega-3 or fish oil is another supplement that Danahy often recommends for middle-aged or older people. It can help lower blood pressure and triglycerides, but I also like it because it supports cognitive health and has anti-inflammatory effects. However, She cautions that eating foods with sources of omega-3, such as salmon, sardines and fatty fish, two or three times a week will continue to be a better option than supplementation. Multivitamins, vitamin D, echinacea, and fish oil are among the many dietary supplements that are available in stores or available online. Maybe you're already taking a supplement or are thinking about using one.

Dietary supplements can be beneficial to health, but they can also pose health risks. So it's important to talk to a health professional to help you decide if a supplement is right for you. In addition to talking to your doctor about supplements, it is recommended that people consume 3 servings of blue fish (such as salmon, anchovies, sardines and mackerel) per week. It also includes the recommended minimum and maximum amounts you should consume, as well as the good food sources for each one. When that's the case, your doctors may recommend a dietary supplement to provide the missing nutrients. Harvard Health recommends reading the label and choosing one that contains the recommended daily amount of your various vitamins and minerals and that bears the United States Pharmacopoeia (USP) seal of approval on the label (an indication of the purity and concentration of a given vitamin).

In addition, some specific stages of life require greater vitamin and mineral needs, such as before and during pregnancy, so supplements may be recommended. The National Academy of Medicine recommends 38 grams of fiber a day for men under 50, 30 grams a day for older men, 25 grams a day for women under 50, and 21 grams a day for women over 50. Nordic Naturals recommends taking the supplement with food, as vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is better absorbed with healthy sources of fat in the diet. Folate enrichment has alleviated the problem of congenital abnormalities, but obstetricians continue to recommend supplements to women who are trying to conceive or are already pregnant. Omega-3 fatty acids are recommended as part of a healthy diet because they are believed to play a role in preventing cancer and also help heart, eye and brain health.

While the body naturally produces vitamin D with exposure to the sun, it can be challenging to meet the recommendation of at least 600 IU of vitamin D per day. The form known as vitamin D3 is usually recommended, but D2 is also effective; for best results, take vitamin D along with a meal that has some fat. Most people can get enough iron from the foods they eat, but if your doctor recommends taking supplements, try this Slow FE option.

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