There are so many supplements on the market these days, that it is hard to know what to choose or what is going to to right for you.
I have put together my top 3 tips when taking supplements to try and help you make the best choice when it comes to choosing supplements.
#1 Choose a high quality product
As I said, there are so many supplement products on the market, where do you start?
Take a look at the ingredients, if they are using fillers, bulking agents or binders; these are probably not the best supplements to use because they are not using the best quality ingredients.
If the ingredients in the supplements are poor quality, firstly, do you want to be putting these bulking agents into your body? but secondly your body is not actually getting the quality vitamin or mineral that you are wanting it to absorb. So what is the point in taking them?
It is far better to spend a bit more to get a better quality product and it provide you with the nutrients that you intended it to.
#2 Do you actually need them?
It is very easy to wander into the local supermarket or health food shop, pick up the first multi vitamin you find and think, 'this pretty much covers everything' and buy them.
Do you really need everything that's in that multi vitamin? I would say supplements are never a good substitute for the real thing. Including highly nutritious foods in your diet like an array of fruit, vegetables, pulses and not forgetting herbs and spices can often avoid the need to take supplements but some people need just a little boost. There are quite a lot of factors to consider when taking supplements; which include your diet, the amount of exercise you do, any medications you are taking and any illnesses you may be suffering with. All of these aspects can have an impact on what supplements you require, how much you need and how well your body is going to absorb them.
Another point to remember, is that too much of a good thing can also be bad for you. Too much iron or zinc for example, can cause toxicity in the body which can have some very damaging side effects.
It can causes nausea, liver damage and even hair loss; it is not just deficiencies that cause problems.
In an ideal world I would recommend having blood tests to determine what your body is lacking, that way you can tailor your supplements to complement your body rather than hinder it by taking a 'cover-all' multi vitamin.
#3 When to take them
The first thing is to remember to take your supplements consistently. Taking them on one day and not the next or forgetting for a week will pretty much render the supplement you are taking useless and it will not be effective at all.
It takes time for these to build up in your system and it can sometimes take months before you will see any benefits from them. Consistency is key!
Some supplements are better taken at certain times of the day; like probiotics for example, are better taken in the morning on an empty stomach, when the stomach acidity is lower and with a cold drink, (hot drinks will kill the bacteria before it has even had a chance to reach your gut!). Others are absorbed by the body more efficiently if they are taken alongside some thing else. Take iron for example, this is absorbed more easily by the body if taken with vitamin C, so taking your iron supplement with a drink of orange juice is ideal. On the other hand calcium is known to block or hinder the absorption of iron, so taking your iron supplement with a glass of milk is a no no!
Once you have started taking a supplement, keep an eye on your body and look out for any changes. Are they starting to have a positive effect? Are you feeling less tired? Has your skin improved? Has your hair started to grow back?
Listen to your body, it is very often giving you the answer!