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6 Things You Need To Know If You Take Vitamin Supplements

6 Things You Need To Know If You Take Vitamin Supplements

How do you get all the nutrients you need every day? The answer of course is a healthy, balanced diet. The right food gives you the full dose of minerals, vitamins, fiber and antioxidants. Why then do you take vitamin supplements or feel a desperate need to take them? The answer is that your diet may be lacking some essential elements especially if you are grabbing some fast food, have little time to cook and even less time to go out and get those lovely fresh veggies and fruit. So, here are 6 things you need to know before buying and taking a multivitamin supplement.

1. Get up to date on recent scandals

This latest scandal relates to herbal supplements being sold in top retails stores which do not contain the actual herbs on the label! The main problem seems to be with lesser known brands which were substituting the herbs with garlic, beans, rice and wild carrot. Bottles of tablets supposedly selling Valerian root (normally a sedative to help you sleep) contained no Valerian at all. Similar problems were found with Gingko biloba, and St. John’s Wort. The stores involved were Walgreens, Walmart, Target and GNC. The main problem is that the FDA does not regulate supplements like medicines and that has led to unscrupulous manufacturers making fake products. Watch out for so called ‘natural’ products as 98% of these actually contain synthetic compounds and are anything but natural.

2. Don’t overdose on these vitamins

There is increasing evidence that taking too many of these vitamin supplements can actually do more harm than good. There are quite a few studies on this. For example, the Iowa Women’s Health Study examined over 38,000 women and found that taking multivitamins was linked to a 2.4% increased risk of death! Not an enormous percentage but still alarming.

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Basically, you have to decide what the deficiencies in your diet are, what your special needs are and not overdose. Pregnant women may need a multivitamin. Some patients recovering from a chronic illness may feel better after taking them for a period. Women who are trying to get pregnant may benefit from a Vitamin B containing folic acid. Sports fans may need supplementation when they have to do intense training and glucosamine sulphate helps protect joints.

As regards overdosing, make sure you look out for the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) and DV (Daily Value) on the label and try not to go over that limit. It must be said that when treating osteoporosis, the RDA for Vitamin D is only 600 units but the National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends people over 50 should take up to 1,000 units.

3. Do your homework

You can ask your doctor what to take but if you do some homework, it is a great eye opener and can help you decide how long you should be taking a certain vitamin and if it is really necessary. One great way of doing this is to have a look at the site of the company selling these vitamins. You can see immediately whether they have published studies available online about the proven benefits of the vitamins. That is a very good sign that the company is taking its clients’ health seriously. Other sources may be the WebMD site and MedlinePlus.

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4. The famous Vitamin D

Did you know that most of your vitamin D supply will come from sun exposure? In fact up to 90% of what the body needs comes from sunlight. Now, if you do not get much sunlight, you may well have to take an extra vitamin D supplement. You can get a limited supply of this vitamin through some foods such as tuna, sardines and also fortified cereals.

If you are worried about bone health, osteoporosis and rheumatism, you may need vitamin D. It is also used as a supplement for high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, asthma, bronchitis and PMS.

Vitamin D can also help you absorb more calcium from food which is great for bone health. Canada now endorses calcium rich and vitamin D foods as helping to treat osteoporosis. They even go so far as to recommend up to a maximum of 2,000 units for the over 50s. Calcium can also help you sleep better if taken in the evening as it is a muscle relaxant.

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5. Guide to buying vitamin supplements

If you are buying a herbal or vitamin supplement, you should do the following:

  • Look out for the label GMP. This means the company is following the Good Manufacturing Practice
  • Check to see if they’re the NSF International, US Pharmacopeia, or Consumer Lab labels – these mean that the actual ingredients inside are verified!
  • Supplements manufactured outside the USA are not normally regulated and they may contain toxic ingredients which you will never know about until it is too late.

Remember the bottom line is that supplements and herbs can cause side effects and many people are overdosing on these or taking them when it is not necessary at all. The FDA received 6,300 reports of serious incidences associated with supplements in a five year period from to 2012.

6. Which form is best for you?

Having decided to take a multivitamin or another vitamin supplement, you have to decide which form is best for you. Effervescent tablets can contain up to 1 gram of salt per tablet so you should keep that in mind if you have to limit your salt intake because of high blood pressure, for example.

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Another thing to bear in mind is the difference between water-soluble vitamins and the fat-soluble ones. The latter should be taken less often because they are not excreted. They are usually stored in the liver so too many of these can damage this vital organ. The most common fat-soluble vitamins are A, D, E and K. Water soluble ones such as B and C are usually washed out of the body so they need to be taken on a more regular basis.

Now that you know a little bit more about vitamins, you should be able to make better choices when you buy and take these supplements.

Featured photo credit: Pills Vitamins Macro April 22, 2012 3/ Steven Depolo via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on May 22, 2019

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

1. Cat Camel Stretch

Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

Here’s a video to guide you through:

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2. Go for a Walk or a Run

This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

3. Jumping Jacks

Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

4. Abductor Side Lifts

Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

5. Balancing Table Pose

This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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    6. Leg Squats

    Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

    Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

    The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

    7. Push Ups

    You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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    An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

    Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

    This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

    8. Bicycle Crunches

    There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

    Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

    9. Lunges

    Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

    Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

    This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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    10. Bicep Curls

    You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

    Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

    Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

    Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

    Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

    These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

    You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

    Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

    More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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