by Andrea Sparks
A healthy diet and lifestyle includes more than diet and exercise. Adding dietary supplements to your regimen can help promote a healthy body from the inside out, but how do you know which dietary supplements you need and which supplements are safe and effective? Understanding the benefits and uses of vitamins and supplements can help you decide which supplements are for you. The following information can help you find answers to many of the most frequently asked questions about dietary supplements.
What are dietary supplements and what do they do?
Dietary supplements may include vitamins, herbal supplements, minerals, plant extracts and other substances. These nutritional supplements are designed to help ensure that you get adequate amounts of essential nutrients or to help promote optimal health and performance.
How do I know if I need a nutritional supplement?
If you have a restricted diet, have had recent changes in health or weight, are pregnant, have digestive disorders or food allergies, or feel lethargic, you may want to consult your doctor about starting a dietary supplement program. Certain dietary supplements can also be added to a healthy diet to effectively in increasing performance and specific results, such as with bodybuilding or weight-loss supplements.
Are dietary supplements safe to use?
Although federal regulations for dietary supplements are not as strict as those for over-the-counter and prescription drugs, most dietary supplements, particularly vitamins and minerals, are generally considered safe when taken in appropriate quantities. Some manufacturers voluntarily have their supplements quality tested and frequently display "USP Verified" or "ConsumerLab.com Approved Quality" on their labels. Checking the labels of your dietary supplements is a good idea if you are concerned about the quality and safety of a certain supplement. You should also always consult your doctor before taking dietary supplements and discontinue use if adverse side effects occur.
How do I know if the dietary supplement I am taking is effective?
How you feel is the best way to know whether or not your dietary supplements are effective. Have your symptoms been alleviated or have you gained the desired effect? If so, chances are that the dietary supplements you've been taking are working correctly. There are certain supplements, such as those formulated to lower blood pressure, that may require tests from your doctor to determine effectiveness. It's also important to understand that it make take some time for certain supplements to have a noticeable effect, so give your supplements one to two months to build up in your system before determining whether or not they are working.
The content on this site is not intended to substitute for the advice of a qualified physician, pharmacist or other licensed health-care professional. The products may have additional information and instructions on or inside the packaging that you should carefully read and follow. Contact your health-care provider immediately if you suspect that you have a medical problem. The use of dietary supplements may not have been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or health condition.