Throughout my studies as a Nutritionist I worked in a health food store. This was an amazing platform for me to really get a true understanding about supplements, brands, quality and buying patterns.
Let me just start by saying as a Nutritionist I truely believe in food as medicine. I believe that good nutrition has the power to heal the body and allow the body to perform exactly how it should. And I believe food is with out a doubt the starting point when it comes to good health. No supplement will improve your current health status if you have a poor diet. However as a practitioner I also believe that there is a need for supplements in certain cases, and I can tell you I have personally felt at my optimal health level when supplementing correctly in conjunction with an amazing diet.
There are differently some tips I would recommend for everyone when looking for the right supplements to incorporate into your diet though, so here they are.
1. Have you had the appropriate testing done?
Working in the health food store really made me aware of the amount of people that self diagnose with nutrient deficiencies. Low iron was a very common one. Blood tests aren't always necessary but if you suspect a certain nutrient deficiency I would highly recommend blood tests to check your levels before taking a supplement.
Remember you can get too much of a good thing. Some examples are:
• Too much zinc = loss of taste and smell
• Too much iron = constipation
• Too much magnesium = diarrhea
• Too much iodine = thyroid problems
• Too much L-arginine = unsafe drop in blood pressure.
2. Check the quality of your supplements.
Research is very important before buying supplements. You want to make sure the product has been sourced ethically, the ingredients are evidence based, there are no fillers, nasties or sugars added, and the quality and brand is a high standard. If you take a poor quality supplement the chances of the body being able to absorb much of the dosage is very low.
Again after working in a health food store for so long, supporting your local health food store over the pharmacy is a good place to begin. Majority of health food stores do care about the quality of there products. Or speaking to your health practitioner and seeking their recommendations.
Supplements and herbs have many contradictions with each other and pharmaceutical medications. Again before incorporating supplements into your diet it is important to check if there are any contradictions with your current pharmaceutical regime. You can do your own research however I would recommend speaking with your health practitioner.
4. Before taking a supplement ask yourself these questions:
- What are the potential health benefits of this dietary supplement product?
- What are its potential benefits for me?
- Does this product have any safety risks?
- What is the proper dose to take?
- How, when, and for how long should I take it?
- Do I know enough about this product or should I speak to my health practitioner?
I hope that gives you some starting points if you are already taking supplements and are not sure on the quality, or if you think you are missing nutrients in your diet.