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HealthNotes

How Do I Pick the Right Vitamins & Herbs?

Questions to get you started
How Do I Pick the Right Vitamins & Herbs?: Main Image
It’s important to have clear health goals when looking for supplements.

Do I really need vitamins and herbs?

Even if you eat healthfully, you could probably benefit from taking vitamin supplements. Certain vitamins help protect the body against the damage caused by environmental factors, such as the sun, pollution, and pesticides and other toxins, that can lead to illness, disease, and aging. For more in-depth information on nutritional supplements, see Vitamins and Minerals for Healthy People.

Many herbal remedies have been used traditionally to help prevent or treat diseases, and science has supported a wide range of uses.

Where do I begin?

Before making any change in your health protocol, it is a good idea to check in with your healthcare practitioner, especially if you are pregnant or have a health condition. Next, it is important to have clear health goals when looking for supplements. For example:

  • A healthy 20-year-old might simply be looking for “dietary insurance.”
  • Someone in his or her 30s might want to manage stress.
  • Postmenopausal women might be concerned about osteoporosis.
  • Men over 50 might be thinking about prostate health.

Each of these will benefit from a slightly different supplement protocol. Talk with a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner, letting your health goals and history guide your research and help you determine the herbs and supplements that will be safest and most effective for you.

Are vitamins and minerals always safe?

Although most supplements have good safety records, each person’s body will react differently depending on his or her unique physiology as well as on any other medications, herbs, and supplements also being taken. In addition, certain combinations of medications, herbs, and nutrients can potentially cause depletions or interactions. For that reason it is important to check with your health practitioner. Also try Rx Answers, which contains depletion and interaction information for drugs, nutritional supplements, herbs, and foods.

Do women need special vitamins or herbs?

Each woman will have different health concerns depending on her age, health history, and genetics. In addition to meeting general nutrient needs, women may have specific concerns such as osteoporosis, PMS, heart disease, iron levels, and pregnancy. For a comprehensive look at women’s health and how supplements might help, see the Women’s Health Center.

Do men need special vitamins or herbs?

Like women, each man will have different health concerns depending on his age, health history, and genetics. In addition to meeting general nutrient needs, men may have specific concerns such as prostate health, stress, diabetes, and heart health. For a comprehensive look at men’s health and how supplements might help, see the Men’s Health Center.

Are vitamins and herbs safe for children?

Although many experts believe that children can safely benefit from vitamins and other supplements, it is important to consult your family practitioner before giving children vitamins, herbs, or other supplements. See Children and Supplement Safety for more information.

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