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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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