Dietary supplements include vitamins, fish oil, herbs, minerals like calcium, and more. And if you take one, you’re not alone. About half of U.S. adults do. But should you? That’s a question for your doctor or dietitian, says Linda Van Horn, a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University.
Food is the best way to get your vitamins and minerals. But it sometimes can be hard to eat enough fresh veggies, fruits, whole grains, and other healthy options. A multivitamin can be a safe way to boost your nutrients.
Do You Need a Supplement?
Most healthy people don’t need one. But some folks may need extra help, says Jerlyn Jones, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Reasons include if you’re elderly, take certain medicines, or don’t have easy access to healthy food because of income or where you live.
How to pick a high-quality supplement
Once you’ve decided that a supplement is what you need, the next step is finding one that’s high quality.
- What to watch out for
Watch out for any supplements that make bold claims — for example, a supplement that helps to build muscle or burn fat. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
- Read the ingredients
Always make sure to read the ingredients. If it lists any ingredient you don’t recognise or understand, research them to make sure it’s not an unnecessary additive. Low-quality supplements can be full of additives that block your body from absorbing the active ingredient (the nutrient you want). Often, you can get an indication of the quality of a supplement by checking the ‘free from” information. This might include, ‘free from’:
- tree nuts
- artificial preservatives
- artificial colourings
- It’s particularly important to read the label if you have an allergy.
- Check the dosage
It’s really important to choose a supplement that has the right dose for you. There can be a fine balance between getting enough and over supplementing. More is not always better! Taking too much of a food supplement can potentially cause health problems — for example, too much vitamin D can lead to a condition called vitamin D toxicity. This is rare but it’s still worth paying close attention to the doses in your supplements. On top of this, the dose only makes up part of the picture. You also need to consider the bioavailability of the active ingredient.
Check the bioavailability
Bioavailability refers to the amount of the nutrient that your body is able to absorb. There are many different forms of nutrients and some are much easier to absorb than others. For example, magnesium is available a lot of different forms, like magnesium chloride, sulphate, bisglycinate, taurate, or citrate. Some of these are easier to absorb but they can also have different benefits. So it’s worth doing your research or working with a health professional to find the right form for you.I think of these essential criteria to select the best supplement for me from the best supplement stores near me.