What Supplements Should I Take? Your Guide to Complete Health

spilled yellow capsules

If you walk into a pharmacy or a health store, you've probably noticed that there are so many supplement options that you could easily bankrupt yourself buying them all! There are a dizzying array of options, leaving all of us wondering, “what supplements should I take?”

What Supplements Should I Take?

Sorting out the answer to this question starts with a different one: do you need to take supplements at all?

Who Needs Supplements?

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Most healthy people eating a varied diet do NOT need to take supplements. In fact, there is some evidence to suggest that people who fit this description can actually do themselves harm by taking too many supplements. However, there are definitely some people who need supplements. Some of those people include:

  • Pregnant women (you really ARE eating for two!)
  • The elderly (you may not absorb nutrients like you used to)
  • Those on restrictive diets of any kind, from vegan to low-carb
  • People who don't get much exposure to the sun
  • Those who engage in very strenuous activity (bodybuilders, for example)
  • People battling certain illnesses

Pregnant Women

The Elderly

Restrictive Diets

Those With No Sun Exposure

Strenuous Activity

The Sick

Choosing Quality Supplements

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If you're asking yourself “what supplements should I take?”, then part of your question will be “where can I find the best supplements?” If you tell anyone that you're interested in supplements, you're liable to get all kinds of advice. Your yoga partner's friend's sister will be only too happy to tell you about what she takes: but how can you make an informed decision for yourself?

Look for Additive-Free Versions

Choose Tested Supplements

Look for Transparency

Buy from Manufacturers

Other Tips

Supplements are great: but you need to know why you're buying them, what you need, and which ones to take. Here are a few more things to think about when you find yourself wondering, “What supplements should I take?”

What's the Expiration Date?

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Everything expires. That packet of cheese in the fridge. Your face cream. The dog's flea medication. Supplements expire, too, so be sure to pay attention to those dates when you buy.

Guess what? Buying in bulk doesn't help you if the supplements expire before you have a chance to take them all. Buy only the quantity you'll actually need and always make sure you aren't being sold old stuff.

Only Use What Helps You

Here's a practical example: multivitamins for pre-menopausal women typically contain a lot more iron than multivitamins for men or post-menopausal women. Why? Because younger women shed enormous quantities of iron during their menstrual cycles.

If men took the quantities of iron in a women's multivitamin, they would overdose fairly quickly. You need to know what you need before you start popping pills.

Talk to Your Doctor

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It's never a good idea to use supplements without asking a health care professional about what you need and what they recommend. There are lots of reasons for this; one is that the doctor may be aware of how supplements and medications interact with each other in unpleasant ways.

The Upshot

Supplements can be hugely beneficial. They can also cause problems if you don't take the right ones or take them in the wrong quantities or in conjunction with the wrong medications. Talk to your doctor, know what you're taking, and then get all the benefits of the supplements you deserve.

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