Dietary Supplements for Health

Many people, from children to seniors, are interested in taking dietary supplements to help them stay healthy. These products do have a place in an overall health plan, but consumers need to understand what these products are and their limitations before deciding to use them.

Dietary supplements are more than just vitamins. When considering these kinds of products, read the label to understand exactly what the package contains. Along with vitamins and minerals, a product may also contain herbs or botanicals.

We get vitamins and minerals from the foods we eat. There are some foods that are healthier choices than others and contain more of the nutrients we need to stay healthy. Eating a balanced diet that includes items from all the food groups is the best way for a person to get the vitamins and minerals they need.

Too often, there are times when a person doesn’t eat as well as they should. They may be in a hurry and decide to grab something on the run, or choose to buy prepared foods (that are usually high in fat and calories, but lower on the nutritional content scale). Taking vitamins is a way to make up for the fact that we may not always be getting the right level of nutrients from the foods we eat.

Dietary supplements are not meant to be taken as a way to treat or cure illnesses. A patient should tell his or her doctor about all the medications they are taking, including any vitamins or herbal supplements. They can affect the way certain medications work, and may even have a bearing on how effective a particular drug is for treating a medical issue.

Before starting a program that includes dietary supplements, it’s a good idea to discuss the matter with a physician. This step is especially important if the patient is taking any prescription medications or is living with a chronic health condition. Once the doctor gives his or her approval for the dietary supplements, they should be taken according to the directions on the packaging.

Taking a multivitamin is relatively inexpensive way to make sure that an individual is getting all of the vitamins and minerals necessary for good health. Other supplements can be helpful as well, including calcium, Vitamin D and folic acid.

Calcium is important to ward off osteoporosis. Most people don’t get enough of this nutrient from the foods they eat, and taking it in a pill form makes sense. Vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin” may be added to calcium supplements, since it helps with absorption.

Folic acid is recommended for all women of childbearing age, since it helps to prevent spinal birth defects. The recommended dose is 400 mg/day.

Vitamins for Children

Should kids be given vitamins? In a perfect world, all children would eat a balanced diet all the time, and they would not need to take any type of dietary supplement to ensure they are getting the nutrients they need to stay healthy.

The reality is that not everyone (children included) eats well all the time. Some youngsters are picky eaters and will only eat a few special foods. While no child is going to starve him or herself, eating a diet that is limited in scope may mean that the kid isn’t getting the benefits that a more balanced eating plan can provide.

Some commercially prepared foods have vitamins and minerals added to them, which will help children get the health benefits they can provide. Milk is usually fortified with Vitamin D. Cereals also contain added vitamins and minerals. Bread is another common food that has added vitamins (usually iron and B vitamins).

Before making the decision to give a child a vitamin supplement, parents should discuss the matter with the child’s doctor. He or she can provide some information about what kinds of supplements would best benefit the child.

Once the doctor has been consulted, a formulation specifically made for children should be chosen. Adult vitamins should not be given to youngsters. Instead, choose one of the formulations made especially for kids. They are available in a liquid form for very young children, and older ones can take chewable tablets.

When considering a vitamin for children, look for one that contains iron. Many children don’t get enough of this mineral, and they are at risk for developing anemia as a result.

Another important mineral for children is calcium. It is found in milk and milk products, such as cheese and yogurt. Eating ice cream is another way to get calcium in a child’s diet.

Eating a variety of foods is the best way for a person of any age to get the nutrients they need for good health. Children who are picky eaters should be presented with different items and encouraged to at least try them. Over time, they will likely grow out of their picky eating habit and taking vitamins can help to fill in the blanks they are not getting from their regular diet.

When considering what type of vitamin to buy for children, take the time to read the label before making a purchase. The product may contain other items other than the vitamins and minerals themselves, and it’s important for parents to understand exactly what they are buying.