For thousands of years, herbal medicine was the predominant form of health care on the planet. For many people, it still is. In our switch to modern medicine, much of that ancient wisdom was sadly lost, rejected as the superstition of primitive people. Recent research is proving, however, that our ancestors were smarter than they’ve been credited. It turns out that many of the benefits of traditional herbal remedies are being confirmed by modern science. People use and rely on alternative and complementary therapies more now than ever before.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act (DSHEA), a dietary supplement is defined as any product that is meant to supplement the diet. Dietary supplements are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Common supplements include vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, amino acids, and other nutrients. Supplements are available without a prescription and come in a variety of forms such as tablets, capsules, liquids, and powders.
Who Can Benefit From Taking Supplements?
More than half of all Americans use dietary supplements. So who can benefit most from taking supplements? The short answer is that, at some point, just about everyone. However, there are certain groups of people who may find supplements to be of more critical importance.
Vegans & Vegetarians
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Despite what meat lovers might tell you, you can easily meet all your daily nutritional requirements on an organic, plant-based diet. The one possible exception is vitamin B-12, as animal-based foods are the primary source of this vitamin. There are plenty of plant-based foods fortified with B-12, but I advise caution, as these foods tend to be heavily processed. A vegan B-12 supplement like VeganSafe B-12™ can help fill this gap.
Pregnant Women & Nursing Mothers
It’s no surprise that growing a human being inside your body increases your nutritional requirements. There’s a number of pregnancy-specific supplement blends on the market today, but a few of the main nutrients you should pay special attention to are folic acid, vitamin D, and iron.
As we age, hormonal changes make getting the right vitamins and minerals increasingly difficult. Bone loss becomes an issue, especially for women. Supplementing with vitamin D and calcium can help reduce the effects. Vitamin B-12 deficiency can leave seniors at risk for dementia. A quality B-12 supplement can provide the nutrition they need. Other good supplements for elders include omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and probiotics.
Those With Absorption Issues
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Malabsorption is when your body can’t absorb nutrients properly. Certain medical conditions can cause or worsen malabsorption. Likewise, certain medications, including tetracycline, antacids, and obesity medications, can cause malabsorption. If you have digestive disorders, serious illness, harmful organisms, or are undergoing aggressive medical therapies, adding extra vitamins and minerals with supplements may help you reach your daily recommended requirements.
The Top 6 Dietary Supplements
So what are the best dietary supplements? That depends. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of dietary supplements, and each has its uses. The best supplements for you depends on your needs, lifestyle, and physiology. This is a general list of the supplements most people could benefit from based on observations I’ve made over the course of my career.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, making up nearly 2 percent of total body weight. The vast majority of the calcium in your body is used to make and maintain your bones, but trace amounts are also crucial to the proper functioning of your enzymes, nerves, heart, and blood.
Globally, a staggering 3.5 billion people are at risk for calcium deficiency. Many of these are among the elderly. As we age, we tend to lose bone mass. A calcium supplement may help make up the difference. I recommend IntraCal™, a formula that combines calcium orotate and magnesium orotate to ensure optimal absorption. 
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2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is involved in numerous physiological processes and is particularly important to your skeletal, immune, endocrine, and cardiovascular systems. Your body can produce this nutrient when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Unfortunately, our society spends more time indoors now than at any point in history. Complicating this is our over-reliance on sunscreen when we are outdoors.
We’re so worried about skin cancer that we’ve become overly vigilant against the sun, blocking out all exposure to sunshine and depleting our vitamin D levels. Some studies estimate that as many as 77 percent of Americans live with some form of vitamin D deficiency, most without even realizing it. According to the Harvard School of Health, one billion people worldwide have low levels of this nutrient. The best way to solve this is to spend more time outside in the sun, but failing that, a vitamin D supplement like Suntrex D3™can help.
Iodine deficiency is one of the most common health issues on the planet. According to the WHO, over two billion people worldwide are iodine deficient. Of these, as many as 50 million live with severe repercussions of iodine deficiency, such as brain damage. Iodine is crucial to the proper functioning of the thyroid and hormonal health. Overall, a quality iodine supplement can help you get the iodine you need.
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