Tips for Using Dietary Supplements

Tips for Using Dietary Supplements

These days, almost everyone takes some kind of dietary supplement, whether it comes in the form of a basic multivitamin or a tailored system for maintaining wellness. The thing is, not all dietary supplements are created equal, and even high-quality products won’t do any good if people don’t use them correctly. Read on to find some tips for using dietary supplements that will help any health-conscious consumer get the most out of these advanced nutritional products.

1. Buy from a Reputable Supplier

Arguably the most important thing to consider when buying and using dietary supplements is the supplier. There’s a big difference between buying products from and other reputable vendors and purchasing them from a random convenience store. Since the FDA doesn’t regulate dietary supplements, it’s up to consumers to do their homework.

The best manufacturers produce professional-grade dietary supplements that contain precisely measured amounts of high-quality ingredients and are manufactured according to exacting industry standards. It may cost a little more to purchase high-quality products, but it’s worth the extra money. When in doubt, check the label. Look at the ingredients, see if the manufacturer has any industry certifications, and check the company’s website to make sure they only sell products backed by science.

2. Read Labels Carefully

The labels on dietary supplements can be confusing, but it’s important to read the fine print. All supplements should have appropriate nutrition and ingredient labels, and they can’t claim to treat or cure diseases because they are not reviewed by the FDA. The label should also indicate whether the product is organic.

Many consumers prefer to use products labeled as organic, or “natural.” However, it’s important to note that those terms, even when they’re backed up by appropriate certifications, don’t mean that the supplement is completely safe or that it has no side effects. Most dietary supplements have side effects, and it’s better to be aware of them than it is to use products that claim to provide results that are too good to be true with no downsides at all.

3. Take as Directed

There’s a second reason it’s so important to read through the label carefully. Dietary supplements are designed to be taken as intended at the recommended doses. People should only take dietary supplements as they are intended, not just when it comes to dosage, but also other details.

Some supplements are best taken with food to avoid side effects like nausea. Others should be taken on an empty stomach. All fat-soluble vitamins and minerals should be consumed at the same time as a meal or snack that contains some sort of fat, such as oil or butter, to aid absorption. Failing to follow these directions can impact the supplement’s effectiveness or induce unwanted side effects.

4. Be Aware of Medication Interactions and Contraindications

Some supplements, and some foods, for that matter, affect the efficacy or absorption rates of prescription medications. If this is the case, it should be indicated on the label of both the supplement and the prescription drug. It’s always best for those who take medications like anticoagulants, antacids, and antibiotics to discuss supplement use and potential interactions with their doctors before they try new products. If the doctor seems to be against all forms of dietary supplements, consider speaking with a naturopath.

5. Don’t Overdo It

Just about everyone knows how important it is to get an adequate supply of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. However, there are some nutrients that can cause uncomfortable side effects or even serious health problems when consumed in excess. If the supplement contains iron, it should only be taken by people with an iron deficiency since a buildup of this mineral in the blood can impact heart and liver function and, in extreme cases, can even cause permanent organ damage.

It’s also important to avoid consuming excessive amounts of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, and E. All of these vitamins are found in food as well as certain supplements, and the body stores them in its fat and liver tissues. If they build up enough, they can cause health problems. Information about the amounts of specific vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in each dose should be readily available on the product’s label, as should dosage guidelines. Don’t take more than the recommended dose.

6. Remember That Supplements Are Not a Replacement for a Healthy Diet

While it’s very difficult for modern Americans to get 100% of the nutrients they need from food, alone, taking dietary supplements isn’t a replacement for eating healthy meals. Unless the product is specifically intended to support intermittent or short-term fasting, keep eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats.

It’s also relevant to note that weight loss supplements will not be effective if people use them without making any other changes to their lifestyles. Some dietary supplements can help users manage their appetite as a form of weight loss support. Don’t stop eating entirely. Take advantage of the supplement to reduce cravings for sweets and processed snacks, but don’t routinely skip meals.

7. Store Supplements Properly

In households with children and pets, it’s very important to store dietary supplements in a safe and secure location. Take them out to use them, then put them back in their proper place. It’s also best to keep supplements in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight, as UV and heat damage can render some dietary supplements less effective. Most people keep their supplements in their medicine cabinets along with prescription and over-the-counter medications.

The Bottom Line

Vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and certain herbs can all play a valuable role in supporting wellness. In recent years, researchers have been focusing more on proving and disproving claims of efficacy and safety, and there are now multiple independent entities that test and certify dietary products. It’s easier than ever to find high-quality supplements, but don’t assume every product on the market is safe and effective. Do some research and make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. When in doubt, ask a doctor before starting a new supplement regime.

Cristina Macias
Cristina Macias is a 25-year-old writer who enjoys reading, writing, Rubix cube, and listening to the radio. She is inspiring and smart, but can also be a bit lazy.