Choosing the Proper Supplements: Where Do I Begin?

Health & FitnessNutrition & Supplement

  • Author Magen Hazel
  • Published December 24, 2009
  • Word count 830

If you are starting to enhance your diet with additional vitamins, herbs, minerals or other supplements, you are probably wondering whether you are hitting all the key areas. Or perhaps you have not started to supplement your diet yet, and you aren’t quite sure where to begin. There is a huge body of information out there, and it can be overwhelming. Take a look at this simple supplement overview and find out how to get started.

You should probably begin by examining your individual dietary deficiencies.

For example, if you are a strict "meat and potatoes" eater, you may not be getting enough nutrients from fresh vegetables or fruits. In this case, you would likely want to supplement your diet with a multi-vitamin and perhaps even some additional vitamin C.

If you are a vegetarian, and consume no meat whatsoever, you may want to supplement with a B-complex as well as Zinc and other minerals, amino acids, and vitamins found predominately in beef and other meat sources.

If you find yourself occasionally eating chicken, but do not enjoy the taste of fish, you could supplement with fish oils, which are great for your cardiovascular health, your brain, and even your skin and temperament.

After carefully considering your diet and the nutritional holes it may have, you will have a basic understanding of where to start. Perhaps you already have the basics down, you know all of this information, and you are looking to branch out from here? Let’s take a look at the next steps.

First, it’s very important to make sure your body can tolerate any of the supplements you are about to ingest on a regular basis. If you are already taking any other drug, herb or supplement for some ailment or other reason, be sure that it is compatible with the new supplements you are proposing to take. The best way to be certain of this is to check with your doctor.

If you are a woman, you will want to start at half of the indicated dosage on the label. You need to take into account your size and frame, since many of the directions printed on supplement labels are for an average adult male. For example, if the label indicates that you should be taking four capsules daily and you are a 5’1, 100 lb woman, you may want to start with one or two capsules and work your way up if your body seems to tolerate the supplement well. Of course, if you are pregnant or nursing, the supplement should clearly indicate on the label whether or not it is safe. In the case of pregnancy or nursing, your doctor will know best.

If you are a man who is about to embark on a new supplement regimen, and your doctor gives you the go-ahead, you most likely won’t have these issues to worry about and you can take the supplements as directed on the label.

Once you have the dosage down, you may stay on the basic vitamin supplements for a few weeks to see how you feel. Often, people think they need to re-work all of their dietary habits or restructure their supplements completely, and they are happy to find that this is not the case. A little tweaking of their current regimen can and sometimes put them into a healthier state without having to go through an entire dietary upheaval.

If after a few weeks you do not really notice a difference in your health, stamina, energy, or fatigue levels, you should reevaluate what you are taking. You may need to increase the dosage, try a new regimen, or add additional supplements to what you are already taking. If after a few weeks you still do notice a marked improvement — say, to your energy levels — you may still want to add supplements so that other areas of your body function at a higher level.

For instance, perhaps your fatigue levels decrease after adding a B-complex to your diet. That is wonderful! Now you may have the energy to get those daily workouts in that you kept missing because you were just too tired. If this sounds familiar, those new workouts are indeed a wonderful addition to your life, but they will definitely cause stress on the body. Although it is a "good stress," it is stress nonetheless. You may want to include a recovery or post-workout drink to your supplement routine now. It will help you replace electrolytes lost in your workout, as well as hydrate you and give you back crucial nutrients that were lost during perspiration and exertion. It can even help you to preserve the lean muscle mass your body is building.

There are so many ways to healthfully supplement your diet and your life. You just need a couple of good, solid building blocks to start with. The more you learn as you go, the more ability you have to create a healthy new you.

Megan Hazel is a freelance writer who writes about health and wellbeing, often discussing specific items such as supplements.

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