But how do you prioritise which goals you want to preferentially work towards? Is immunity more important than muscle growth? Or is having radiant and healthy skin at the top of your list? A good way to do this is to look honestly at yourself (figuratively and literally). Take stock of your life. It isn’t an overstatement to say that the quality of our lives is controlled in large part by what we put in it. If you feel low and are lacking energy then you may want to prioritise a vitamin B compound and vitamin D. If you are overweight and are looking for a slight boost to help you along then you could try a natural fat burning supplement. If you are finding it difficult to focus, you may want to try a nootropic to boost cognitive function. You will only be able to decide how you should prioritise your supplementation regime by taking a very honest look at yourself and examining where you are and comparing it to where you would like to be.
Whatever your goals are it is worthwhile to ensure that some key criteria are met by your supplements. Firstly, check the ingredients and check that amount of each component. For example, the mg of vitamin C Reishi private label. It is also good to know what the source of the vitamins are. For example are they from natural ingredients or from a ‘man made’ process? A lot of people like to know if the foods and supplements they are taking are organic. Whether or not a product that you choose is organic should be clearly displayed on the container. There are also a large number of people that like to stay away from animal products. Whether or not a supplement is suitable for vegetarians or vegans should also be clearly displayed on the container. A very important area to think about is where and how the supplements are made. Do they pass all safety regulations for human consumption. It would a real shame to cause yourself harm while taking something that you thought was going to help you become healthier. Ensure that the vitamins and supplement compounds that you take are safe and have been passed by an appropriate regulatory body e.g. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
As I have become more involved in using functional nutritional therapy in my practice, I have come to realize that many people are still confused about the safety and effectiveness of various dietary supplements. Because these products are “natural”, many feel they are always safe to use. Although supplements and herbs can be safer than pharmaceutical drugs, they can still function as drugs in the body and should be used with caution and respect.
It is estimated that over 80% of the world’s population and 60 million Americans use some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). However, although many believe CAM compliments their current traditional healthcare, most do not inform their physicians that they are taking these products. And, many providers don’t ask or discuss CAM use with their patients, although one survey of 181 cardiologists found that half of them took antioxidant vitamins, themselves.
What many people don’t realize is that there is no regulatory agency in charge of the supplement industry. Herbal products are not tested for purity, effectiveness and safety as drugs are. In 1994, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) was enacted that requires the FDA to prove beyond any doubt that a supplement is unsafe before removing it from the market. Other than regulating what can be included on the label, they are unable to enforce any other regulation.
There is no incentive for supplement companies to conduct research because they are unable to patent ‘natural’ products. Those marketing herbs and other supplements save millions of dollars not spent on research, or worse, yet, conduct their own “research”, which often does not include rigorous controls. Although there are many excellent and reputable supplement companies on the market, the typical consumer is unlikely to know who the credible ones are. Many independent sales representatives only know what the company tells them, and are as unaware as the consumer.
Even if the supplements are pure and not harmful by themselves, problems arise when combined with drugs. Dietary supplements may compete with drugs, leading to toxicity or treatment failure of that drug. An estimated 4 million people are at risk for herbal-prescription drug interactions. Here is a list of the most common interactions between supplements and drugs:
* Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to prevent blood clotting for those at risk for deep vein thrombosis, stroke, or heart attack. Supplements that can change bleeding time controlled by this drug include flaxseed oil and fish oil supplements, goldenseal, saw palmetto, feverfew, garlic, ginseng, and willow bark, just to name a few.