If you have ever felt overwhelmed in the supplement isle at the store, you are not alone.
From keeping you safe from a cold to claiming hair growth, vitamins are everywhere and for everything. But do these supplements actually deliver the results that they claim? Bryan Haycock a physiologist and professor at the University of Utah says not all vitamins are created equal.
– Vitamin D for bone health.
You may have heard about the importance of Vitamin D on the news or elsewhere and with good reason. Vit D is a very important nutrient and is involved in the maintenance of strong bones as well as breast and colon health. During the winter months we often do not get enough sun fr our skin to produce enough vitamin D for optimal health. Even during the summer months if we always wear sunscreen and/or cosmetics with SPF protection, we limit our skin’s ability to make vitamin D. Look for products containing vitamin D”3″ specifically. Fortified skim milk is also a great source of Vitamin D.
– Supplement for hair, skin and nails.
You see many hair, skin and nail products sold online. I can’t really recommend these types of products because the essential nutrients that your body needs for healthy hair, skin, and nails can easily be obtained in a multivitamin supplement. There is also not enough scientific evidence to indicate that taking these products provide the promised benefits. As an alternative to a multivitamin/mineral product, you should try to get a full daily intake of fresh fruits, vegetables, and essential fats such as those found in fish, walnuts, and avocados.
– Vitamins for immune health.
Immune health is of course a hot topic this time of year. One of the most common beliefs is that vitamin C will prevent cold and flu. Although there is a lot of research to show that under some circumstances such as the physical stress competitive athletes are exposed to, vitamin C may help reduce the number of sick days, it certainly isn’t a guarantee for the average person. A good addition or even alternative to Vitamin C are probiotics. There is a good deal of research showing significant beneficial immune support with the use of probiotics. Yogurt is the best food source of probiotics but at times the actual amount of probiotics a product contains is difficult to know. Capsule forms are a good way to ensure your getting a beneficial supply of these friendly tummy bugs.
– Vitamins for brain health.
When we were kids we were taught that our brain could not replenish lost cells. Today however we know differently. Keep in mind however that not all “brain supplements” work in the same way or offer the same benefits. One type takes advantage of common stimulants to improve attention and focus. This does not necessarily mean you are getting brain “health” benefits. The other type of brain product actually supports the brains ability to heal and replenish lost cells and over time reduce the decline in cognitive abilities so common with aging. Look for products that contain one or more of the following omega-3s such as DHA, an ingredient called phosphatydalserine, and curcumin. Good foods sources are fish and curry.
– Energy vitamins or supplements.
Energy supplements seem to be everywhere these days. There can be some confusion however about the claims and ingredients they contain. I think we all know that drinks and shots high in caffeine give you a boost of energy. Caffeine has its pros and cons and people vary in their willingness to add them to their daily routine. You may also see some products claiming to give you energy without caffeine. These often make claims about B vitamins. B vitamins are required for your body to convert the food you eat into fuel. Most people don’t experience this as a boost of “energy” however. So before grabbing one of these products make sure you read the label and see if it is just a stimulant or a mix of B Vitamins. If the product is based on B vitamins don’t expect it to prevent that afternoon crash most of us feel.
For more information about vitamins and supplements visit www.fda.gov