4 Things To Ask Before Taking A Supplement

Do you take any vitamins or supplements?

Many people underestimate the benefits of supplementation on optimising overall health and wellness. With our increasingly busy lifestyles it can be hard to look after ourselves as well as we should! Without proper nutrition, we can cause deficiencies which leave us tired and stressed and not being able to do all of things we want to do. This is where supplementation can help.

From boosting energy and supporting healthy weight management to preventing disease, vitamins and supplements can help us target and allow our bodies to work efficiently and effectively. We can also use them to target specific nutritional requirements and health concerns that we have at different stages of our lives. While vitamin supplements should not be used as a substitute for a balanced diet, they can certainly help us to bridge some of the nutritional gaps we might be causing with our diets.

Choosing a good health supplement should be an informed and wise decision. Some things to consider are:

  1. Do I need the supplement?

Have you assessed your diet? Are you deficient in a particular nutrient? Have you had your levels checked by your doctor or naturopath? I recommend blood tests before starting any supplementation to ensure you target any deficiencies you may have and to uncover any underlying health conditions. It is also good to know the correct balance in taking specific supplements to make sure that they work as effectively as possible.

  1. Is the supplement safe for me?

Do you take other medicines? Do you have any health conditions? Many supplements contain active ingredients that have strong biological effects and their safety is not always assured in all individuals. Taking a combination of supplements or using products together with medications (whether they are prescription or over-the-counter drugs) could under certain circumstances produce adverse effects, some of which could be serious. In addition, many people are not aware that taking too much of certain vitamins or minerals can actually do more harm than good. It is important to consult a doctor or pharmacist if you are unsure about the implications of taking a particular product.

  1. Are the ingredients evidence-based?

Is there evidence that the supplement is effective? If not, don’t waste your time and money! It is important to do your own research or ask the advice of a practitioner or pharmacist. It is also important to choose a product with an “open label”. This means the label should inform you of the names of the ingredients and the exact amounts of each contained in the product, the form of the ingredient used, the batch number and expiry date.

  1. Is the brand reputable?

Has the brand been established for a significant amount of time? Do their products have good reviews? These are important factors to consider before purchasing. The label on the product is also a good tool for evaluating a good health supplement brand. This includes current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) compliance, pharmaceutical grade production, as well as quality control measures. The supplements should be tested and analysed independently for their effectiveness, purity and potency. This information can be obtained by contacting their customer service.

It is always recommended that you do your own research as well. There are several evidence-based supplement database websites available (one of my favourites is examine.com), in addition to Government websites which all contain valuable information. Be aware that there are many companies marketing supplements – many of which do not work and can be unsafe. Quality does matter, so it is important to read the ingredients and warnings on the label, and learn about the manufacturers. It’s up to you as the consumer to protect your own health.

My Fit & Flexible E-Book contains a comprehensive vitamin and supplement guide including benefits and dosing information of products I recommend. If you have any further questions about choosing the right vitamins and supplements for you, email me at holly@thefitpharmacist.com.au