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6 Things You Need To Know If You Take Vitamin Supplements

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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

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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 13, 2022

10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

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10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

A honeymoon is important.  The wedding is over.  The months, or even years, of stress and planning are finally over.  It’s time for the two of you to relax, settle in, and start enjoying your time together as you embark on your first journey as a family.

To make the most of this time for the least amount of money, it’s important to focus on what you want out of a honeymoon.  This isn’t your typical list of touristy honeymoon locations everyone goes to.  Rather, it’s a list of cheap honeymoon experiences a couple can enjoy together, regardless of where it’s at.

1. Camping

A week long camping trip is a fantastic way to see how you mesh together as a couple.  You’re put in a low impact “survival” situation where it’s just the 2 of you and nature.  You have a chance to see how your new spouse handles themselves when left with the basics of life.  There are amazing national parks all over the United States where you can camp for a week for $20-30, disconnect from technology, and enjoy some of the natural wonders our nation has to offer.

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2. Staycation

You don’t have to go anywhere for a honeymoon.  In fact, the tradition of taking a honeymoon vacation is a relatively new one.  Prior to the 19th century, a honeymoon involved staying home together for a month to get to know each other physically.  Think of how blissful it could be to take a full month off work, disconnect from the outside world, and focus entirely on projects together.  You may not be wowing your friends and family with pictures of some exotic location, but they’ll be envious of your escape from the rat race nonetheless.

3. Island Getaway

People tend to overspend on their honeymoon vacations to Hawaii, Tahiti, etc.  Going to these places doesn’t have to be expensive.  You don’t need to stay in a 5 star resort when you’re on a Best Western budget.  You’re there to be in the atmosphere of the island, not a hotel room. Book a cheap flight and sleep in a hotel alternative, on the beach or in your car.  It’s the view in paradise that really matters.

4. Fancy Resort

Book an expensive resort, spa, or retreat in the city you live in.  While this may seem counterintuitive as a cheap destination, when you consider your savings on airfare and other travel costs, you can afford to be treated like royalty within your own city limits.  If you book a honeymoon package, you’ll end up with a lot of free amenities and extra attention.  There’s no need to fly halfway across the world to live the good life.

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5. Road Trip

The journey is often more fulfilling than the actual destination.  If you fly out to some exotic locale, you’ll be stuck on a plane for 8-30 hours.  Rent a luxury car, pick a handful of places you each have always wanted to visit, and go on an adventure.  You can keep food costs down by packing your own snacks, but it’s always a good idea to sample the local delicacies wherever you go, even if it’s only a few states over.

6. Charter a Boat

If the ocean is your thing, a week-long cruise can cost you $1500-$3000 per person, depending on the destination.  You also have to factor in travel costs to and from the cruise, alcohol, souvenirs, and on-shore excursions.  You’ll also be surrounded by people.  For the same price (and often much cheaper), you can charter your own boat and enjoy the experience in private.

7. Las Vegas/Atlantic City

If gambling is your thing, these are the places to do it.  Which one you choose depends on your preference, budget, and proximity.  The way to make this vacation cheaper is to gamble smart.  Stay away from low odd tables (i.e craps, roulette) and read up on the MIT blackjack strategies to beat the house.  If you do it right, you can win enough for a free trip (and gain a valuable team skill in the process).

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8. Themed Retreats

There are weeklong retreats all over the world where you can fully immerse yourselves as a couple into a hobby you’re both passionate about.  Go on a yoga/meditation retreat, a ranch, a vineyard/farm, a backpacking adventure, treasure hunt, or whatever you’re into.

9. Working Honeymoon

Your honeymoon doesn’t have to be a vacation.  For a truly memorable experience, dedicate a week to a charity or volunteer organization.  You can drive out to a campground to help restore it in the offseason.  Maybe you’ve always wanted to volunteer to help out your local animal shelter, plant trees, help the homeless, etc.  Use the time to do something together as a couple that will fulfill you spiritually while contributing to the community.  Just because you’re on a honeymoon doesn’t mean you can’t be productive.

10. Festivals, Fairs & Special Events

Every city, state, and country has festivals, fairs, and special events.  Find one you’re interested in.  If you time your wedding right, your honeymoon can be a trip to one of these festivals.  Burning Man, SXSW, Bonnaroo, the Renaissance Fair, regional harvest festivals, Mardi Gras, New Years Eve in Times Square, a movie premiere, or whatever you’re into.  If you plan your honeymoon at the right time in the right place, the possibilities are endless.

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Featured photo credit: Josue Michel via unsplash.com

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