Supplements, too many to chose from!

Have you been in the health food store lately, or for that matter, Wal-Mart, the grocery store or the pharmacy? The shelves are lined with supplements of all kinds. Confused? Most everyone is. What do I take, how much do I take, should I take liquids or capsules or tablets? Truth in labeling laws do not allow herbs or supplements to make health claims, yet Americans seem to be spending more and more money on supplements, one billion dollars last year alone. No wonder everyone wants a piece of the action.

When talking with the average consumer about supplementation use, some feel they were helped dramatically, others say they don't feel they were helped at all. Is it the wrong herb/supplement, or was it the brand?

The average individual will use supplements for one of three reasons: the state of their wellness is failing, they are looking to promote their state of wellness and cut health care costs, or they just think that they should be taking some supplements. I can't argue with any of those reasons, but to just randomly stab in the dark with supplement use is a waste of your time and money.

If you are about to embark on a trip to the health food store for supplements, here are some things that will help you pick the right one. Notice I said a trip to the health food store, not Wal Mart. All supplements are not created equal. Always buy quality. The other things to keep in mind -- getting and using enough, balance and synergy, the right combination.

Use and bioavailability -- Herbs are weeds with very hard cell walls. So hard that our body many times cannot chemically break down the cell wall to reach the phytochemicals inside. Use liquids, preferably tinctures made with grain spirits. Or, take the dried herb capsule, open it and make a tea. Supplements should be derived from a natural organic source and free of allergens.

Balance and synergy -- Your body is a chemical factory that needs the proper balance of vitamins and minerals to perform its daily functions. The term RDA (required daily amount) signifies low-end standards set by the FDA for healthy individuals; these are bare minimums needed to sustain life. Your dietary supply of necessary nutrients will increase (greater than the RDA) during times of recuperation from injury or illness, alcohol use, allergies, air pollution and other toxins, smoking and stress.

The right combination -- Consider this relationship: bioflavanoids, another kind of vitamin C, needs to be taken with vitamin C or the bioavailability will be severely diminished. Vitamin C also needs to be present for the absorption of iron. Calcium, needed especially for menopausal women, is not bioavailable without the appropriate amounts of magnesium.

Your health is your responsibility -- Be informed about your health conditions and find out what the experts have to say about supplementation use. Journal your results when starting a new herb or supplement. It will be important to remember your state of wellness is not static but rather constantly shifting, as will be your need for supplements.

Till next time, Rebecca.

Uploaded to The Zephyr website May 29, 2002

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