Every day there seems to be a new recommendation out there about supplements. Take this vitamin, or that herb. But how can we know for sure what we need? And are any of these really necessary?
Oftentimes supplements can be very helpful and beneficial to our health. After all, herbs were the first medicines and are still used to this day in medicine and research. In general, there are certain vitamins and supplements that are beneficial to take based on your gender, your age, and your specific needs. This is best determined by a nutritionist or physician.
One very important thing to remember is that vitamins, herbs and supplements are not regulated in the same way that pharmaceutical drugs are. Not all supplements are created equal! Also, some may be outright unsafe if the correct product is not chosen.
One example of this is Butterbur. Butterbur is proven to treat allergic rhinitis and migraine headaches, which is great for this time of year. However, it must contain the right chemicals in the right amounts and be free of pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which are toxic! Also be sure the Butterbur you choose has about 15% of a natural chemical called Petasin. Without that it will not have the desired effect. Petadolex is a brand that can be trusted.
Another example is the famous Echinacea. This is proven to promote immune function and shorten the duration of a cold when taken up to 8 days starting at the first sign of symptoms. However, there are many varieties of this herb. Manufacturers will sometimes bottle up a variety of Echinacea that has NO EFFECT and sell it to the public. Make sure if you are buying Echinacea it contains E. purpurea, or E. pallida.
There are many vitamins and herbs out there that can be beneficial to our health, but be sure to consult a professional prior to starting any supplementation. Stay tuned for more on this to come!