Supplements Healthy Living

A balanced diet and effective exercise program are an important part of healthy living, but they’re not the only considerations. Our bodies need adequate rest in order to recharge. Stress reduction is very important. Problems in one area can affect the other areas. Stress can make it hard to get adequate rest, which can make us too tired to exercise, which denies us the chance to burn off some stress, and so on. It’s a vicious circle.

Healthy Living and Stress

Stress has sabotaged many an attempt at healthy living. It’s hard to get adequate rest, exercise, or even find the time to prepare a balanced diet when stress levels skyrocket. Taken on a daily basis, certain dietary supplements have proven to bolster our ability to deal with stress. They include:

  • calcium
  • magnesium
  • zinc
  • ginseng.

Dietary supplements can help our bodies maintain adequate levels of vitamins and minerals during those times when we can’t give our full attention to healthy living and eating a balanced diet.

Dietary Supplements for Preventive Health

Taking certain supplements on a regular basis may reduce your chance of developing a variety of diseases, including heart disease, high cholesterol, osteoporosis and certain types of cancer. While adequate nutrient intake through a balanced diet and supplementation certainly plays a major role in promoting healthy living, it may also play a role in preventing and treating mental fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Fatigue: Chronic fatigue syndrome is a little understood condition that can include long-term physical and mental fatigue. It’s been compared to having the flu all the time. Ginseng has been suggested as a possible treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome, as ginseng is known to prompt a sense of well-being and reportedly improves mental clarity. Research into using ginseng as a treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome is ongoing, with no evidence confirming or denying its validity as a treatment at this time.

Heart Disease: Omega 3 fatty acids and Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) have been proven to both fight and prevent heart disease and other cardiovascular disorders. They are best taken under the advice of a physician, especially if you have existing heart disease.

High Cholesterol: A number of dietary supplements reportedly prevent or reduce high cholesterol. Common garlic has proven especially effective, although the active ingredients in raw garlic break down quickly when converted to capsule form. Niacin, or vitamin B3, has also been shown to reduce high cholesterol.

Osteoporosis: Calcium and vitamin D are vital to the prevention of osteoporosis. Vitamin D enriched milk and dairy products are good sources of both vitamin D and calcium. It has become an established practice to recommend to anyone at risk for osteoporosis that calcium supplementation be included in a preventive health program.

The Benefits of Vitamin E

The health benefits of vitamin E include the ability to strengthen the immune system, and to help lower the risk of contracting certain types of cancer. Evidence also suggests that vitamin E may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. It was once suggested that heart disease prevention was one of the benefits of vitamin E, but that theory has since been proven false.

The Truth About Vitamin C

One of the most popular of supplements, vitamin C has long been believed to bolster the immune system and combat colds. Debate has raged over the validity of this claim: Some claim vitamin C has no effect on the immune system, while others tout it as a kind of super-supplement. The truth lies somewhere in between. Regular doses of vitamin C do seem to strengthen the immune system, and it certainly reduces cold symptoms if taken appropriately as part of a preventive health program.

Getting the Right Amount

Moderation is as important for dietary supplementation as it is for diet. Just as when eating a balanced diet you try not to eat excessive amounts of any one food group, you don’t want to overdo individual vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements. Too much is as bad, indeed sometimes even worse, than too little. For example, not enough calcium in your diet can lead to osteoporosis. Too much can cause hypercalcemia, where calcium in the bloodstream builds up to dangerous levels.

Determining the right amount of vitamins and minerals can be difficult; after all, most of us aren’t experts in the field. And for dietary supplements to work properly, they must be individualized to personal needs. The best way to do this is to seek out the experts. Get advice from your health care provider or pharmacist.

All supplements should be taken in appropriate amounts. And of course, even supplements that have been proven to work should not be used to self-medicate or replace a physician’s care. Discuss the advantages of supplements with your doctor or pharmacist to be sure the supplements are right for you and that they will not interact with any medications you are taking.