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Vitamins and supplements: your reading in 5 minutes

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You may decide to take vitamins and supplements for many reasons, including getting your recommended daily nutrient intake or addressing a specific health issue.

Vitamins and supplements offer a range of potential benefits, from boosting immunity to managing stress.

But with so many choices, what should you look for when choosing the right vitamins or supplements for your needs? We collaborated with Swanson Health to provide tips on what to keep in mind when browsing the vitamin aisle.

Do you need to take vitamins and supplements? You may benefit if you have a deficiency. According research 2021, common deficiencies in the United States include vitamin D and vitamin B12. These essential vitamins play a role in bone and brain health.

How do you know if you have a deficiency? Some signs and symptoms may include:

  • visual or skin changes
  • anemia
  • bone changes
  • neurological problems
  • blood clotting problems
  • hair loss or brittle hair
  • brittle nails
  • fatigue

Discuss deficiency testing options with a healthcare professional if you think you are missing an essential vitamin or mineral. Testing can help identify potential deficiencies and determine why you’re lacking in a particular nutrient, whether it’s because of diet or an underlying health condition.

Learn more about magnesium deficiency.

When shopping for vitamins and supplements, you can choose from a wide variety of options. The type you choose depends on the health issue you want to target.

Here are some commonly sold supplements and why people use them often:

  • biotin for hair loss
  • calcium and Vitamin D for bone health
  • fish oil for joint health, eye health, heart health, bone health, depression and inflammation
  • ashwaganda to relieve stress
  • the iron for anemia and low iron levels
  • magnesium for depression, heart health, bone health, migraine and inflammation
  • niacin (vitamin B3) for skin health and digestive health
  • omega-3 fatty acids for heart health, eye health, inflammation and depression
  • vitamin B12 for people who do not get enough of it in their diet, such as vegans and vegetarians
  • vitamin C for antioxidants, healthy skin, healthy bones and boosting immunity
  • Vitamin E for heart health, eye health and inflammation

Learn more about the potential benefits of ashwagandha.

With rows of vitamins and supplements available in stores and even more options online, how do you know which options are effective and trustworthy? Here are some key factors to consider.

Security

It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine which vitamins and supplements are best for your needs and safe to take. Some vitamins and supplements can interact with medications.

A healthcare professional can also help you select the right doses of vitamins and supplements for your needs. Taking inappropriate amounts can be dangerous.

Brand reputation

Buying dietary supplements from a reputable brand that offers a high quality product is crucial.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) generally does not approve claims and labeling before a vitamin or supplement hits the market. This means that it is up to the manufacturer to provide accurate information. Unfortunately, not all brands are transparent when it comes to labeling.

A study 2019 reviewed the accuracy of herbal and dietary supplement labels. The researchers found that more than half of the products tested were mislabeled.

When shopping for supplements and vitamins, look for brands that use reputable third-party testing. Looking for a Certificate of Analysis (COA) is one way to ensure that a brand takes the quality of its products seriously.

Some third-party identifications to look for include:

  • NSF Certification: This certificate type uses strict standards to evaluate products and involves regular on-site inspections.
  • USP Verified Mark: This mark verifies that the ingredients, potency and quantities are accurate and free of harmful contaminants. It also verifies that the products are manufactured in accordance with current FDA Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP), confirming that the products are manufactured in a sanitary and controlled manner.
  • Banned Substances Control Group (BSCG) certified quality and GMP: BSCG certified quality checks ingredients and checks for hazardous substances. BSCG Certified GMP audits manufacturers to ensure they comply with CGMP.
  • USDA Certified Organic: Products with this certification go through rigorous review to ensure that their quality and integrity meet USDA organic regulations.

Swanson Health offers a wide variety of gummies, such as magnesium, zinc, vitamin C and multivitamins for children and adults. Supplements are also tested by in-house and third-party labs.

Labels

A product label can provide a lot of information, including:

  • Ingredients and potency: A clear list of ingredients and information on nutrient content are important. If it’s missing, it’s a red flag.
  • Fillers and additives: Beware of supplements containing heavy fillers, sweeteners and additives.
  • Servings and Serving Size: Look for the number of servings in the container and how the serving size is measured.
  • Certificates: Certifications may state information about the supplement, including whether it is vegan, USDA organic, gluten-free, kosher, etc.

Learn more about how to choose high quality vitamins and supplements.

The right type of vitamin and supplement depends on your preferences and needs.

Do you hate swallowing thick capsules? Do you prefer a convenient single-dose pill? Or maybe you’re looking for a kid-friendly vitamin option.

Common forms of vitamins include:

  • Capsules and liqui-gels: Capsules and liqui-gels can mask unpleasant tastes, but they may contain gelatin, which makes them unsuitable if you’re vegan.
  • Tablets or capsules: Capsule shells and tablets are common and available in vegan and non-vegan formulas.
  • Liquid and mists: These vitamins and supplements are a great choice if you have trouble swallowing pills or capsules.
  • Candy and chewing gum: Chewable vitamins and supplements are a great option for children and people who don’t like swallowing whole capsules.

Vitamins and supplements can provide benefits that can help with various health issues. When choosing the right nutritional supplements for your needs, factors to consider include brand reliability, safety, and your preferences.

Before you start taking any vitamin or supplement, talk to a doctor. They can help you determine if you have a deficiency and give you advice on how to supplement safely.