More and more people are taking supplements, perhaps because they have a restricted diet, a medical condition, or to complement their lifestyle. However, like medications, taking supplements is something that should be entered into responsibly to avoid possible unwanted side effects. This is also important to make sure that they work efficiently, and in the way that they are required. Here are some tips to help you supplement safely and responsibly.
Discuss with a Medical Professional
Anyone contemplating taking a supplement should discuss doing so with a medical professional beforehand, not just with someone who works in a health food shop, or an employee of a supplement company. The medical professional should ideally be someone who knows your history, such as your family doctor, as they will be able to advise whether a supplement is suitable for your personal situation. Some supplements should not be taken by people with certain conditions, those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or by people taking certain medications, as they could interact with them and cause side effects or stop the medication from working.
Supplements should only be taken if there is a genuine need for them, and you may need a prescription to prove a deficiency. For example, there are more men supplementing testosterone now than ever, but trustworthy companies will only supply after confirmation of need.
Do Your Research
If you are considering taking a supplement, make sure you do your research first to ensure that you are taking the correct supplement for your needs, that there are no undesirable ingredients, and that you buy from a reputable supplier. If in doubt, ask your doctor for recommendations.
Follow the Guidelines
Once you have discussed taking a supplement with a medical professional and bought the appropriate product from a trustworthy supplier, make sure you read all the information that comes with it before taking it. Only ever take the recommended dose, and make sure to use it as directed. For example, some supplements may need to be taken before, with, or after food, or you may not be able to eat certain foods with it.
Eat a Healthy and Balanced Diet
Supplements should never be used in place of a healthy, balanced diet. If you do feel you would benefit from taking a supplement, you should continue to eat a good diet, with plenty of fruit and vegetables, drink plenty of water, and take regular exercise to stay as healthy as possible.
Although supplements are generally regarded as safe for most people, they may not be if taken excessively, or by children and animals. For this reason, it is vital that all supplements, like medications, are stored correctly and out of the reach of children and pets. It may be that some supplements work optimally when kept in certain conditions, such as in the refrigerator, so check the label.
Don’t Expect Miracles
Supplements cannot cure or prevent specific diseases, and they should not claim to do so. They may help with general health, but they should always be used to ‘supplement’ a healthy lifestyle. It is also important to remember that just because something is labelled as ‘natural’ or ‘organic’, it does not automatically mean healthy. Even natural ingredients can cause side effects or interact with medications, which is why it is important to discuss it with a medical professional.
Not everyone needs to take a supplement, and they should only be taken if it is or difficult or impossible to receive the correct amount through the usual means. Remember that supplements may vary between suppliers too, so if after discussion with your doctor, you decide that you would benefit from taking a supplement, ensure you research the supplier first.