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Shopping for Supplements -- Living Healthy and Saving Money

When it comes to personalized weight loss programs and their role in weight loss success, diet gurus and so-called experts have had a lot to say when it comes to nutritional supplements. Usually what they are writing and saying and urging you to do is BUY! BUY! BUY!

And what you should be buying is their particular brand of vitamins, minerals, healthy weight loss shakes, etc. What most of them are doing is using the same company to produce and package the same product, same ingredients, under a different name.

They can then call theirs the latest and greatest supplement--something they've discovered or the latest secret revealed. Really?

If it weren't so serious, it would be laughable. But anything that effects your health is serious!

Here are some simple "healthful" tips on buying nutritional supplements. I'm not recommending any particular supplements. Whether you need more Vitamin D, E, Calcium or Iron is a determination you and your doctor can make together.

Instead, these health tips are meant to arm you with knowledge to guide you when you are looking to add vitamin and mineral supplements to your diet.

Common Sense

As with a lot of things, common sense should help us in making decisions. Whenever you read or listen to any advice about nutritional supplements, what you are hearing should have the ring of truth. In other words, if it doesn't sound right, don't pull out your wallet just yet!

Weight loss professionals and nutritionists agree with what you already know is just plain common sense: the best way to stock up on vitamins and minerals is by eating right.

Popping a pill is no substitute for a balanced diet. You can never expect the same results nutritionally speaking when you take a supplement as opposed to eating the right balance of carbohydrates, protein, and some fat. That's why they are called supplements. They are meant to help make up deficiencies which could lead to serious health conditions.

But if you decide to take a vitamin and mineral supplement, here are some things to keep in mind.

1) Don't waste your money on natural vitamins.

Your body can't tell the difference between synthetic (man-made) vitamins and so-called natural ones. However, the synthetic ones are usually cheaper. The exception to this rule is vitamin E. Your body absorbs the natural form better than the synthetic version, although vitamin manufacturers add enough synthetic vitamin E to make up for the difference--and it's still cheaper!

2) Generic brands are just as good as the more expensive ones.

3) Read the label to make sure the expiration date hasn't passed.

Just like foods, supplements should not be used after their expiration date. Check before you buy, don't assume your local (or online) pharmacy checks expiration dates.

4) Don't assume that more is better.

In fact, vitamins A and D, iron, zinc, and selenium can be toxic in high doses, while others can have unpleasant or serious side effects. Your safest bet is to look for supplements that provide no more than the recommended daily dose of each nutrient.

5) Keep supplements away from children.

Those pills may look and sometimes taste like candy to a child, but they can be deadly. Iron supplements cause more poisoning deaths in children than any other substance.

6) Tell your doctor about all the supplements you're taking.

Some vitamins and minerals can interfere with certain medications. Many bad side effects have occurred because of a lack of communication between doctor and patient. I blame BOTH sides in these cases.

You are the only one responsible for your health. Interact with your health care provider and antispate her questions.

The Verdict?

Nutritional supplements can be a very helpful part of your overall health and fitness program. There are many good and well priced brands.

But as with any other pill you might be considering adding to your body's system, use common sense, consult with your doctor, and don't forget that if you want to live healthy and look fantastic while doing it, you have to eat a balanced diet. There's no substitute for that. . . . I guarantee it!

Mark Fuqua
With 3 earned degrees and more than 16 years of experience as spiritual leader, pastor, director of marketing and investment banker, Mark Fuqua brings to the discussion table a breadth and depth of unique experience coupled with academic acumen. He is Consultant and Chief Editor of Diet Basics, a website dedicated to healthy weight loss success.


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