As any subscriber to a natural health lifestyle will tell you, supplements can make all the difference. Say you’re living in a cold and dark place, and concerned you aren’t getting enough Vitamin C through sun exposure. Or you’re a vegetarian, and worried about the protein you aren’t getting in your diet. For problems big to small, even for very minor annoyances such as thinning hair, the natural supplement can do a lot for your body.

The trouble is, those who are new to natural health may be less familiar with the dangers of abusing supplements. Like anything in life, supplements are only effective if taken in the correct way. That means not too much, not too little, and certainly knowing what it is you should be taking. Bodies and lifestyles are different, and what works for one person may not work for another.

There are plenty of supplements advertised online, but you need to be informed in order to make smart and safe decisions. For help, here are a few tips by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health:

Using Dietary Supplements Wisely

 

  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care. For tips about talking with your health care providers about complementary health approaches, seeNCCIH’s Time to Talk campaign.
  • It’s especially important to talk to your health care providers if you:
    • Take any medications (whether prescription or over-the-counter). Some dietary supplements have been found to interact with medications. For example, the herbal supplement St. John’s wort interacts with many medications, making them less effective.
    • Are thinking about replacing your regular medication with one or more dietary supplements.
    • Expect to have surgery. Certain dietary supplements may increase the risk of bleeding or affect the response to anesthesia.
    • Are pregnant, nursing a baby, attempting to become pregnant, or considering giving a child a dietary supplement. Most dietary supplements have not been tested in pregnant women, nursing mothers, or children.
    • Have any medical conditions. Some dietary supplements may harm you if you have particular medical conditions. For example, by taking supplements that contain iron, people with hemochromatosis, a hereditary disease in which too much iron accumulates in the body, could further increase their iron levels and therefore their risk of complications such as liver disease.
  • If you’re taking a dietary supplement, follow the label instructions. Talk to your health care provider if you have any questions, particularly about the best dosage for you to take. If you experience any side effects that concern you, stop taking the dietary supplement, and contact your health care provider. You may also want to contact the supplement manufacturer, and you can report your experience to the FDA’s MedWatch program. Consumer safety reports on dietary supplements are an important source of information for the FDA.

For more tips, see the complete article here. And remember, you have nothing to fear if you’re taking supplements in a wise and well-informed manner. Provided you know what you’re doing, a good supplement can do you a world of good!