Wellness, Mindfulness, Balance and Inspirational Posts on The GOODista website, illustrated by meditating woman.

Are dietary supplements part of your health boosting choices? A healthy, balanced diet will cover your needs for vitamins, minerals, amino acids and Omega 3 but, there are times when you do need a supplement. We look at when supplements are a good idea, and how you can cover your health related needs in everyday life. The GOODista also reviews which supplements you need to be careful with, as some can do more harm than good when self prescribed.  The wellness market attracts many, and supplements is part of many health junkies must-have daily fix. Are you doing it right?

Supplements: Pill Popping or Health Boosting?

Supplements are an addition to the diet, but should not substitute food. Popping pills because it is supposed to be good for you can often lead to involuntary imbalances.

A healthy, balanced diet will give you plenty of the vitamins and minerals that the body needs. Nutritional elements contained in wholesome food are what the cells of your body must have for optimal health and vitality.

Therefore – if you live in a country / area where you have access to the full array of natural, healthy foods you can make health conscious choices to eat a balanced diet. Ask yourself if you really need vitamins, minerals and other supplements – or is it better with ‘just’ food for optimum health

There are times when you can consider to take supplements for a limited period: 

  • When the full range of healthy foods is not available as is often the case for humanitarian aid workers and similar professionals;
  • If you are coming down with something where certain botanicals, or alternative medicines can give relief;
  • When you are in travel mode where well-researched supplements can be an aid.
  • During periods of temporary stress you can get natural help in the form of herbs and botanicals.  

Read on to find out which dietary supplements you can take for those peak times in your life, and which ones you need to be careful with. 

Supplements or Natural Food?

Dietary supplements are widely used for a variety of health related reasons. We suggest that taking them routinely without knowing what you are actually adding to your system is not healthy.Diet pill or Lifestyle change illustrated by pills and health food in a balance, where health foods weigh more

Food consists of the nutritional parts and compounds essential for human health and life. Fats, carbohydrates, proteins, water, vitamins, and minerals are among the key elements and form the basic nutrients your body must have to thrive. It is however inaccurate to assume that just because a nutrient is essential it is unconditionally safe or beneficial. 

Anything that is used in excess, even essential nutrients, will create an imbalance. Therefore, the improper use of substances or products will inevitably raise the risks for dietary supplement side effects since toxicity is dependent on dose (and time), independent from its source. 

You should be aware that makers of dietary supplements cannot legally say that dietary supplements can diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent disease. But they can say that they contribute to health maintenance and well-being.

The worst offenders of supplement contamination cases are found among weight loss and sexual enhancement products, as well as sports performance and body building supplements. These are also the most sold products on the internet today, and often marketed with much gusto, doubtful testimonials and charismatic good-looking wo/men in white coats. Do you buy these? Fitness Food for Humanitarian Aid Workers is similar to what an athlete nutritional needs are. Illustrated by man made from fruits.

Natural, non-processed foods give you the full array of what you need. You ought to discuss your routine self-prescribed supplements with your Doctor, as you may be overdoing it or adding more than what you need. 

What Are Supplements?

Dietary supplements are vitamins, minerals, herbs or other plants, amino acids (the individual building blocks of protein), or parts of these substances. They can be in pill, capsule, tablet, or liquid form. They supplement (add to) the diet and should not be considered a substitute for food.

Popular supplements include vitamins D and E; minerals like calcium and iron; herbs such as echinacea and garlic; and specialty products like glucosamine, probiotics, and fish oils.How to get a Healthier Life with Good Food is learning what the body needs. This picture shows what foods are good for certain parts of the body.

If you are a self prescribing supplement taker you might think that you are increasing your overall health levels. But – you may in fact be interfering with the body’s natural ability to balance its systems. Your body is a finely tuned mechanical system, that normally functions best with natural food and liquids – and any additions can have unwanted side effects.

Supplements: History, Herbs and Botanicals

There are natural botanicals that have been used for thousands of years that can be used in its natural form, as well as herbal teas and powdered remedies. Herbal supplements are different from vitamin and mineral supplements in that they are considered to have medicinal value.

Herbs, also known as botanicals, are one of humanity’s oldest health care tools, and the basis of many modern medicines. Ironically the historical background suggests that todays’ pharmaceutical market would be a very different place if superstition, religious fanaticism and plain ignorance had not interfered with thousands of years of passed down knowledge of herbal medicine. Did we do the future harm by burning the medicine men and women, so-called witches? Yes, probably…Body, Mind and Spirit illustrated by eastern painting of outstretched hand

Many civilisations still rely on herbs for healing. In fact, the World Health Organisation has estimated that 80% of the world’s population continues to use traditional therapies, a major part of which are derived from plants. However, just because they come from Mother Nature, does not mean you should take them without consulting a doctor, and especially so if you are already on prescribed drugs.

Supplements: Self-prescription?

There is extensive scientific research to suggest that some of the most common dietary supplements may not be as beneficial to you as you might think — especially if you take them in combination with prescribed drugs, fortified foods or while pregnant. 

  • When you take a cocktail of supplements, or multivitamins regularly you can be overdosing, especially if you also eat fortified cereals, pasta or dairy products.Junk Food became a question mark and linked with increasing disease in the late 1970s, illustrated by junk food formed as a question mark. Many processed foods contain added vitamins and minerals, which in combination with a multivitamin gives you more than what you need. For example, getting too much vitamin A can cause headaches and liver damage, reduce bone strength, and cause birth defects. Excess iron causes nausea and vomiting and may damage the liver and other organs. Check out the daily recommended doses here: Dietary Supplements: Do They Hurt or Help? – Harvard Health Publications
  • If you are on prescribed drug for a pre-existing condition you need to be especially careful with supplements. As an example: Vitamin K can reduce the ability of the blood thinner medicines to prevent blood from clotting. St. John’s wort can speed the breakdown of many drugs (including antidepressants and birth control pills) and thereby reduce these drugs’ effectiveness. Antioxidant supplements, like vitamins C and E, might reduce the effectiveness of some types of cancer chemotherapy. Read this article: Dietary Supplements: What You Need To Know – U.S Dept of Health and Human Services
  • When are expecting, nursing or planning to get pregnant you must consult with a Doctor before taking any supplements

Supplements: What To Do Instead 

You do need the full range of nutrients to feel in balance. Rather than self medicating, have a health check-up and consult with your Doctor. There are options to a full range multivitamin / mineral cocktail. Isolate what you may be lacking and try first to eat natural foods that are rich in that particular vitamin or mineral.

Food Cravings are common. The screamer will have an intense need for a certain food. Read more on thegoodista.com. Screaming chocolate cookie illustrates the food craving urgency.

Chocolate – NOW!

It is better to agree with your Doctor to take one supplement for one vitamin / mineral deficiency rather than self-prescribe a whole range. Read this article: The Smart and Safe Use of  Supplements – Helpguide.org

If you have cravings for certain types of not-so-healthy foods this is normally a sign of a vitamin/mineral/enzyme deficiency which can be remedied with eating real foods. Check out how to cure your cravings in this article: Food Cravings Goodbye Guide – The GOODista

Supplements: Wonder Pills?

The market for supplements is huge, and attracts many healthy people such as athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and wellness devotees. Caution can sometimes go out the window when we read about ‘wonder pills’ that increase performance, boost moods, enhance fitness and energy. In our wish to be even healthier we fall pray for doubtful marketing tricks. Let’s look at which supplements we need to be a bit careful with. 

Supplements: When To Take Them?

Supplements do have a lot to offer for those temporary times in your life when you need a boost. For instance:

Supplements: A Healthy Choice?

People have used the active ingredients in dietary supplements for thousands of years to help health and to treat illness. Sometimes those supplements are the basis for some of today’s common medicines. For example, people have used willow bark tea for centuries to relieve fever. Pharmaceutical companies eventually identified the chemical in willow bark that relieved fever and used that knowledge to produce aspirin.

One of the biggest problems with dietary supplements and risks are not the actual, active ingredients themselves. Those natural health products that cause the most side effects of dietary supplements are oftentimes contaminated, manufactured incorrectly, or are taken either irresponsibly or improperly.

Contaminated products, conceivably one of the greatest supplement risks (especially over time),can be easily avoided by taking high-quality, science-based, pure vitamins and supplements. 

The GOODista would argue that regularly taking supplements can be replaced by a healthy, active lifestyle. Micronutrient cooking and eating clean is your best way to get your full array of nutrients. For those peak times when you do need a boost taking supplements can indeed be a good idea, but being careful to buy the best high-quality ones is the responsible way to go. 

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