Nutritional Supplements can be one of the quickest ways to improve health.
Supplements should be treated as 'Tools' to better health that work alongside a healthy diet. Choosing the right supplements can be a minefield, it can also be costly and if you don't really need them, a waste of money. It is best to have some knowledge and know which supplements you need before you shop instore or online as you might come away with the wrong supplements. There is also a quality issue. The cheaper brands may use chemically derived nutrients and also mix it with substances that are 'fillers' and they are less easily absorbed - these can cause sensitivities making you feel worse than when you aren't taking them! There are also different types of Vitamin and Mineral compounds like citrates and sulphates, piconilates - these are how minerals are bound so you can consume them - some are healthier than others. For example:
Vitamin C is better if it is buffered for example as this is less irritating in high doses to the gut lining.
Iron can be either gentle on digestion or cause constipation.
Some B12's are more absorble than others and some magnesium can either be absorbed or cause loose stools.
Calcium comes in many different forms too, it can be easily absorbed, but if not taken with complimentary supplements like Vitamin D3 and K2 can cause hardening of the arteries and other tissues.
If you decide to take an herbal remedy it is always best to be informed properly as these can interact with medications and taken long term can be harmful. Not as harmful as most medications taken long term though!
Ideally you would consult a Nutritional Therapist to get a supplement prescription, this really helps when you go into the store.
For supplements to work you need to take them for the required amount of time or even on going. For example Vitamin C needs to be taken every day but spread over the day in smaller doses to keep blood levels high. You also need different amounts according to your needs, like through the winter, or when you are sick, or to protect you from catching a cold from someone - a Nutritional Therapist can advise you on the safest doses and types.
As we get older our digestion becomes slower with less 'fire' to be able to breakdown nutrients at molecular level.
This when you need to start taking supplements to make up for not being able to get it from your diet. Taking supplements like digestive enzymes can also help get the most from foods, and in some cases can aid digestion in those that have lost much of their pancreatic out put.
I find that some people buy a supplement then leave it in their cupboard having only taken them for a few weeks. Micronutrition can take a while to work, and it is subtle, so needs to be taken long term - which is why a good quality one and the correct nutrients for you are so important.
Supplements need to be reviewed and adjusted - different lifestages also require different support. Some food supplements like collagen are very helpful for joint injuries or aging, some help reduce inflammation or help you to digest your food more efficiently. For example lecithin helps digestion and asimilation of fats which support brain function.
As a Nutritional Therapist, I try to keep it simple and will always use what I call my base nutrients as I see these work in well with my clients, then add other more personally supportive nutrients according to individual needs.