Do’s and Don’ts of Supplement Use

Close up shot with shallow depth field of health supplement oil capsules

Powders, pills or concentrates… supplements have been around for ages; however, they continue to grow in popularity. According to the Council for Responsible Nutrition, 71 percent of U.S. adults take dietary supplements to increase overall health benefits and fill nutrient gaps. But it’s important to be informed before taking them. We spoke with Laura Dalton, owner of GNC North Hills and Stonehenge, about some commonly used supplements.

Cherry Concentrates 

Do…try cherry concentrate at bedtime; it’s rich in melatonin, which can help you sleep! Many claim it’s the best way to fight gout—3 Tbsp a day to fight it and 1 Tbsp daily for maintenance.

Don’t…take three servings of cherry concentrate daily if you are diabetic without knowing how it will affect blood sugar!

Vitamin D

Do…choose vitamin D3 – it’s much more absorbable. It is fat soluble so take it with food. You can take a large dose weekly or split it up. Be warned: some complain of mild digestive issues if taken in doses above 10,000iu at a time.

Don’t…just guess how much you need. The best way to know how much to take is to get your level tested. Check with your doctor to identify normal levels; many folks benefit from supplementing 1000iu-2000iu. If you are on the low end of the spectrum, you’ll need more.

Probiotics 

Do….look for probiotics that are individually blister-sealed or in a dark glass bottle, which can extend the life, viability and potency. Probiotics are more shelf stable than years ago so refrigeration is not always necessary. Look for the guaranteed viability on the product label.

Don’t…get freaked out by the word “billions”! They are microscopic organisms, and most folks need well over 10 billion to ensure they colonize in your gut. Two main types are acidophilus and bifidobacterium bifidum. Among its strengths are helping your immune and digestive health, fighting inflammation, skin and mood. There are many additional strains that continue to be tested for specific conditions that can be found in a blend alongside the acidophilus/bifidum.

Sleep Supplements 

Do…try different things if one doesn’t work for you. Some folks wind up with a blend of products. Part of what you need to figure out is why you are having sleep troubles. Is it that your mind is racing from stress or anxiety? Try Magnesium, l-theanine, gaba, holy basil, valerian or rhodiola. Restless legs or cramping? Take potassium, magnesium, or calcium. Or is your internal clock acting wacky? Try melatonin, which can diminish in your body with age or help children who are ADD/ADHD.

Don’t….start off taking high amounts of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced in your body, so you want to start with lower amounts first (i.e. 3mg, 5mg) so your body doesn’t stop its own production.

Fish Oil or Omega-3

Do…understand there is a difference between 1000mg fish oil and 1000mg Omega-3. Omega-3 is the stuff in fish oil that helps your body (more specifically, EPA + DHA). In standard fish oil, there is 300mg Omega-3, equating to three to four fish oil pills daily to hit 1000mg of Omega-3. Many companies now have more potent formulas (i.e. GNC Triple Fish is 1000mg Omega-3 per softgel) so you needn’t take so many pills anymore. EPA is good for inflammation, heart and to improve mood; DHA is good for brain and eye function.

Don’t….forget to read the label and serving size! Fish oil should be purified and guaranteed free of mercury, heavy metals and PCBs.

Turmeric

Do…try turmeric! It is wonderful for inflammation, blood sugar, skin and brain health (memory, dementia). Take it with black pepper extract (bioperine), bromelain, ginger or other supplements known to help absorption. Look for turmeric made up of 95 percent curcuminoids—the active ingredient.

Don’t…try turmeric if you are on blood thinners without talking to your doctor! It is considered anti-inflammatory with blood thinning effects.

Protein Powders 

Do…know the difference in types of protein. Whey isolate helps with muscle recovery (usually free of lactose, low sugar and low cholesterol), whey concentrate is a medium release blend; casein is a time-release blend (perfect for nighttime). All are derived from milk and are bioavailable to your muscle. Egg protein is easy to digest. Plant based proteins (hemp, pea, or rice) are great for milk intolerance, vegan and gluten-free needs but do have a more grainy texture. Read your labels to be sure you are not getting a bunch of filler or calories your body doesn’t need.

Don’t…try one that doesn’t taste good and think they are all alike! Protein powders have come a long way and are a great source of protein to put in smoothies or mix with water, almond milk, etc. to keep your blood sugar steady and ward off hunger.

Alexandra Drosu

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