Maintaining a healthy diet is crucial for optimal well-being, but sometimes our busy lifestyles and dietary restrictions can make it challenging to obtain all the essential nutrients our bodies need. In such cases, dietary supplements can play a valuable role in filling the nutritional gaps and supporting overall health. However, with countless options available in the market, choosing the best supplements for a healthy diet can be overwhelming. To make an informed decision, it is important to understand your specific nutritional needs, consider the quality and safety of the supplements.
Choosing the right dietary supplement can be overwhelming. However, there are many options: multivitamins, single nutrients, fatty acids, protein powders, extracts, and weight loss aids. Knowing what's best for your immune system takes some research—but it doesn't have to be complicated. Although eating healthy food helps maintain good health, there are times when you need additional nutrition.
Dietary supplements are a safe option to give your body the nutrients to remain healthy and energized. We consulted with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) research articles for tips on choosing dietary supplements safely. In this guide, we will explore the key factors to consider when selecting supplements, empowering you to make choices that align with your dietary goals and enhance your overall well-being. Follow these tips from our experts at Reflect to help you make intelligent choices when selecting your vitamins, supplements, and minerals.
What are Supplements?
Before choosing the best supplements for you, try to understand what dietary supplements are and what they do. Generally, nutritional supplements contain one or more essential vitamins and minerals. They can come in pill, capsule, powder, liquid, or bar form. You can find them at grocery, drug, convenience, and big box stores.
The FDA regulates supplements, so you can be confident when selecting a brand. But that doesn't mean that all supplements are created equal. So why are people taking supplements?
4 Common Vitamin Deficiencies in People
Often, supplements are recommended because your doctor has noticed a deficiency. Based on past National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, people had the most deficiencies in vitamin B6, iron, and vitamin D. Medical professionals understand that the typical Western diet lacks many crucial vitamins and minerals.
To maintain blood formation, and brain and nerve function, your body needs Vitamin B, a water-soluble vitamin. Since your body can't produce it, you must get it from your diet or supplements, as all your cells rely on it to stay healthy and perform their functions.
Animal foods are the only significant source of B12. So, individuals who avoid animal products are likely to develop a vitamin B deficiency. More specifically, studies indicate that vegans and vegetarians may be between 80-90% deficient in B vitamins.
Vitamin D is a type of vitamin soluble in fat. It moves through your bloodstream and into cells, instructing them to activate or deactivate genes. So, almost every cell in your body contains a receptor for vitamin D.
If you live far from the equator, you might not get enough vitamin D unless you supplement it. Vitamin D is produced in your skin from cholesterol when exposed to sunlight. Unfortunately, about 42% of people are deficient in vitamin D due to changing working conditions, which worsen as people age.
Every cell in your body requires calcium, so it's an important vitamin, too; it helps mineralize bones and teeth, especially during periods of rapid growth. It also contributes to bone upkeep and acts as a signaling molecule. Without it, your heart, muscles, and nerves wouldn't function. Your body controls the amount of calcium in your blood; our bodies store extra calcium in our bones.
When you don't get enough calcium, your bones will lose calcium; this causes osteoporosis and weakens your bones. So, soft and fragile bones are the most common sign of calcium deficiency. Unfortunately, very few age groups studied in the United States meet the necessary calcium intake.
Essential fatty acids are the building blocks for your body's hormones and cell membranes. For example, omega-3 fatty acids are necessary because your body can't make them. So instead, you have to get them from food or supplements. Typical symptoms of low fatty acids include dry skin, joint problems, and poor brain function.
Who Needs Supplements?
When it comes to dietary supplements, the National Institutes of Health recommends that you speak to your healthcare provider for personalized advice. The amount of nutrients we need changes as we age and is influenced by our health, lifestyle, genetics, environment, and fitness. To fill any nutritional gaps, it's a good idea to take dietary supplements and a high-quality multivitamin.
Typically, taking popular supplements with vitamin K and vitamin E will also help promote heart health, make blood clots possible, and prevent birth defects in healthy adults. Unfortunately, even though these nutrients come in a fat-soluble vitamin, they aren't typically prescribed by a registered dietitian. According to the Harvard Health publishing firm, fish oil helps with heart health problems and stroke.
A simple blood test from your doctor can identify deficiencies, and you can then correct them.
Sometimes you must supplement your kid's diet with the necessary vitamins and minerals, like calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium. For example, if they have a restricted diet due to allergies, financial stress, or busy lifestyles, supplements can help fill the gap. Again, those on a vegan diet or with dairy allergies will feel the effects of poor bone health and other conditions.
Those with genetic or health conditions
Although many conditions may cause vitamin deficiencies, none are more likely to have more health risks than genetic conditions. These disorders usually cause issues with nutrient absorption.
Some conditions are:
Remember, if you have heart disease and aren't taking essential vitamin and mineral supplements, you should always talk to your doctor.
Are you pregnant?
Childbearing women need enough calcium and folic acid throughout their pregnancy to reduce the risk of congenital disabilities. They also need iron for fetal growth, to process amino acids, and keep their blood cells healthy. Iron deficiency is one of the most common types of anemia in pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins are an excellent supplement to provide a "cushion of safety."
3 Tips From Reflect: How to Choose Your Supplements
Assuming you take vitamins or supplements, you probably want to improve your health. Of course, research is part of the process, but choosing a reliable brand is just as important. Reflect considers these three tips when recommending vitamins and supplements to our customers.
Find out what your body is missing
To cover a broad spectrum of certain nutrients, it's best to use multivitamins. However, specific supplements like calcium for osteoporosis or iron to bolster red blood cells, blood vessels, and iron absorption may be helpful. First, consult with your healthcare provider if you need specific supplements for your health. Then, get a blood test.
What are your health goals?
After your blood test, think about if you have any particular health goals you want to achieve. For example, are you trying to eat more leafy green vegetables and whole grains? Then, no matter your destination, select a targeted supplement to help you get better sleep, reduce anxiety, boost immunity, and promote overall health. Clearly defining your objectives will help make choosing a supplement easier.
Consider the potency
Your dietary supplement should contain the correct amount of key ingredients. If there's too little or too much, it could have adverse effects on your health. Every dose must have the stated ingredients to address nutritional deficiencies adequately.