Vitamins: What you should know

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Dr Kathleen WillsFrom experience, Dr Kathleen Wills knows how to juggle a busy lifestyle.  The US board certified integrative medical doctor practises integrative and natural medicine from her Auckland base, is a health blogger, guest speaker, consultant and advisor. (drwills.com) Fitness Journal chats with the highly regarded expert about therapeutic doses versus maintenance doses of health supplements.

Why bother taking health supplements? Isn’t eating well enough keeping us healthy? From stressed out execs to frenetic mums with busy, high pressure lifestyles, we feel more burnt out than ever.

We deplete our bodies of essential nutrients every day. We can’t make up these deficiencies purely by diet, as we would need to consume far more food to make up for what we lose daily.  Also, the soil in which we grow our food is deficient in key nutrients like zinc, magnesium, selenium and iodine.

These deficiencies are linked to a number of health concerns, such as: thyroid conditions, nervous and muscular system disorders, lowered immunity, reduced cardiovascular function and even cancer. There is concern about the quality of health supplements, so it’s important to choose a reputable brand. It’s also important to take the correct dosage.

I purchase health supplements over the counter, so when should I see a qualified health practitioner?
Everyone should be taking at least a few basic supplements, which can be purchased over the counter in your local supermarket at an affordable price. Magnesium is important for many body functions; supporting relaxation, muscle recovery, immunity, healthy heart and blood pressure, and a sound sleep. For those with sensitive stomachs and allergies, a high potency probiotic supports healthy intestinal flora and helps to maintain stronger immunity and digestion.

The Red Seal Pharmacy Strength supplement range offers targeted support for a variety of health concerns: liver support, urinary health, brain, eyes, moods, joints, skin and vein, immunity and men’s reproductive function. For specific health concerns beyond the basics, whenever in doubt, it is always advisable to seek advice from a qualified natural health practitioner and your GP.

VitaminsWhat type of person needs health supplements and are they for everyone?
Yes, everyone can benefit from taking supplements on a daily basis to maintain good health and reduce the risk of future concerns. But there are certain people who may benefit from high potency supplements, such as the elderly, those with chronic disease, athletes, women before and during pregnancy, and children growing quickly or with special needs. While these specific groups may benefit, I generally find that even some of the healthiest people when given a blood test, have experienced nutritional deficiencies.

How long does it take to see results from health supplements and do I need to continue taking them?
Health supplements generally need to be taken daily for a minimum of three months at the right dosage before you see an improvement. Often, people become discouraged if they don’t experience quick results. It is important to be patient and consistent with usage, and also ensure you are taking high potency supplements for optimal results. I am often asked how long to take supplements. It depends on if you are taking them for a specific health concern that may be ongoing, or if you are taking them for the purpose of reducing your risk during a vulnerable time, such as when travelling or in winter when you are more prone to ills and chills.  If in doubt, always consult with a health practitioner.

What is a therapeutic dose of a health supplement and when should I take it?
A therapeutic dose of a health supplement is the amount required to produce the desired effect, making up for a nutritional deficiency. For example, you could take a vitamin daily, but if the potency is not enough for your individual needs, you may not notice any real health benefits. In the past, therapeutic doses of nutritional supplements were generally only recommended through health practitioners. But with the new Red Seal Pharmacy Strength supplements in supermarkets now, high potency, therapeutic doses are available for everyone. An advantage of taking a therapeutic dose is that you usually only need to take one or two capsules to benefit. Therapeutic doses should be taken when you want to address specific health concerns.

What is a maintenance dose of a health supplement and when should I take it?
A maintenance dose of a health supplement is taken to keep the body in a stable healthy state and act to prevent future health concerns. We may not be suffering from a particular health concern, but wish to stay well and prevent future issues. For example, if you plan to travel or going into winter, you may wish to take an immune support supplement, which contains high potency botanicals, vitamins and minerals to fight ills and chills.

(Always read the label and use as directed. Supplementary to a balanced diet)

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