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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 September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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