A handful of good medicine
THERE is a great drive towards alternative therapies and medicine as more of us look for ways to supplement conventional medicine.
Increased visits to the chiropractor and naturopath are part of that movement as is the rising use of vitamins and dietary supplements.
There are many health products on the market and it is difficult to know which ones offer genuine benefits and which are making false promises.
It is important that you read and ask the advice of your healthcare practitioner so that you are making the correct choices for you.
Vitamin and mineral supplements contain micronutrients that help a healthy body function naturally while herbal supplements have a medicinal purpose as they support a specific area such as liver or skin.
Taking supplements do not make up for an unhealthy diet but a good multivitamin can make up for periodic shortfalls in your diet.
Getting a man to go to the doctor is hard enough, getting them to take their vitamins may be impossible. Nevertheless, men, especially as they get older, may need some dietary supplements to help keep their bodies on an even keel.
Men should start with a good multivitamin such as Swiss Men's Ultivite, $18.99.
Make it part of your routine by keeping it next to your toothbrush or kettle.
Also, add a good quality fish oil supplement (Nature's Own Odourless High Strength Fish Oil Capsules, $24,99) which is important for brain and heart health and can act as a natural anti-inflammatory.
Probiotics found in yoghurt, fermented milk, miso, some juices and soy beverages are an excellent aid for overall gut health.
Women need to think about folate which is important for fertility and foetal development as well as sufficient bone density to prevent osteoporosis.
Start with a good multi- vitamin (Cenovis Once-a-day Women's Multi, $17.95) to build a solid foundation and add a good fish oil supplement and calcium booster (Blackmores Cal-D, $14.95).
Women over 50 will probably need more magnesium than they can absorb from their diets (Bio-Organics Magnesium Forte Tablets, $13.99) as well as more Vitamin B12.
Children should be getting all the nutrients from food but it will come as no surprise that they don't always eat what is dished up.
There is no harm in providing them with a good multi-vitamin, a fish oil supplement and a probiotic if necessary.
Most leading vitamin brands have a kids range suitable to their palates.
PROS AND CONS
- Don't assume all supplements are safe and that they will do all they claim to. Seek advice from your healthcare professional first.
- Don't, especially with children, substitute pills for fruit and vegetables. They cannot completely replicate the benefits of fresh food and do not have things like fibre.
- Don't assume you need a multivitamin, check first with your doctor. Sometimes feeling tired may just mean you are not getting enough sleep.
- Watch the Vitamin A. Too much of any vitamin especially Vitamin A can weaken bones and lead to birth defects or liver damage.
- Don't mix pills. Supplements can be dangerous when combined with prescription drugs and can even nullify their effect.