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Educational Consumer Tips

Vitamins & Food Supplements

Author: Rachel Gelb
Category: Health

Most people admit they are unable to consume the Daily Value of nutrients in their everyday diet.  Vitamins and supplements can provide the additional nutrients to keep your body healthy. But when it comes to choosing a vitamin or supplement, the overwhelming number of options can be puzzling. Use these tips as a guide when looking for a vitamin or supplement to add to your daily diet.

Tips for Choosing Vitamins and Food Supplements:

Look at the Percentages.  Always choose a vitamin or supplement that provides 100% of the Daily Value (DV). Avoid products that contain over 100% of the DV. Using these products can lead to toxicity because the supplement can build up in your system. Remember vitamins and supplements are used in addition to the nutrients you are already receiving from your everyday diet. If you are on a restrictive diet where you do not eat meat, or dairy consider taking vitamins and supplements to fill in any essential nutrient gaps.

Choose a Vitamin Specific to Your Needs.  Nutritional needs vary throughout the stages of life and can depend on gender. Choose a vitamin or supplement that is targeted for your age and gender. There are vitamins dedicated to special stages in life such as pregnancy. Vitamins for pregnant women provide more folic acid, iron, zinc, and calcium that are crucial for prenatal development. There are vitamins designated for seniors that provide more vitamin D and take into account that absorption of calcium, B6, and B12 have slowed down.

Read Carefully.  Before you start taking a multivitamin or supplement be sure to read the label  carefully. Make sure the label states the vitamin or supplement meets the requirements of the U.S. Pharmacopeia. The U.S. Pharmacopeia symbol ensures the vitamin contains the exact ingredients that are listed on the label. Make a note of the expiration date and keep the container in a cool, dry place. Talk to a physician about the supplement to make sure it provides the basic vitamins and minerals that are necessary.

Check the Extras.  Some multivitamins contain extra nutrients such as antioxidants, enzymes, amino acids, or herbs. Unless you have a condition that requires extra nutrients, just stick with the supplement with the basic vitamins. If you are unsure about any of the nutrients, check with your physician before taking the multivitamin.

Safety and Risk.  Always speak with your physician or pharmacist before starting new vitamins and supplements to check for interactions with any of your currently prescribed medications. Always be cautious taking new vitamins and supplements while pregnant or nursing. Be aware that unexpected side effects may be present when starting a new vitamin or supplement as many contain active ingredients with strong effects on the body.

About the Author: Rachel Gelb is Communications and Marketing Manager for BBB serving Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont. Find Rachel on Google +.

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