Over-the-Counter Health Supplements: Hype or Hope?

You probably wish you could turn back the clock to a mystical past in which you felt younger, stronger, and more vital. Whether you ever actually lived in that past is another story, but the folks responsible for marketing and distributing the growing array of over-the-counter health supplements sure are good at bringing it to life. If you’re considering buying one or more of the products you see on TV, online, or on the shelves at your local health-foods store, take a moment to consider whether these supplements are anything more than hyped-up sugar pills.

Defining Health Supplements

Also known as “dietary supplements,” most of these products come in pill form and are readily available on the shelves of your local supermarket or health food store at a variety of price points. Some, like “B-complex” and “immune booster” pills, are little more than cocktails of everyday vitamins that retail for a few dollars per bottle. Others are more complex, containing a variety of obscure herbal compounds, and are correspondingly more expensive.

In any event, the Food and Drug Administration defines the “dietary ingredients” in these supplements as anything that can be considered a vitamin, mineral, amino acid, or “extract.” As you can imagine, some perform their stated functions better than others.

Regulation and Fact-Checking

Since their active ingredients have the potential to cause serious harm when not taken properly, prescription medications are tightly regulated by the FDA. Not so with health supplements: the companies that market these products are not required to disclose the results of studies that test the efficacy of their constituent compounds. In other words, you’re taking the supplement at your own risk.

What Works, What Doesn’t

Most health supplement ingredients are not actively harmful; more often, it’s merely a question of whether or not they work. A quick rundown of some effective and not-so-effective supplements follows.

  • Joint health. The two most common joint health compounds are chondroitin and glucosamine, both of which occur naturally in human cartilage. Although initial claims that they actually help rebuild joint cartilage that wears down due to rheumatoid arthritis have been proven false, they do appear to reduce pain and inflammation in sufferers of the disease.
  • Heart health. These supplements contain everything from Vitamin E, garlic extract, and Omega-3 fish oils to green tea and red yeast rice. Only red yeast rice has been proven to reduce “bad” cholesterol, but that’s only because it mimics an active ingredient in popular prescription medications like Altoprev.
  • Memory. Most of the supplements that claim to improve cognitive function contain gingko biloba, a naturally-occurring plant extract. It has been conclusively proven to improve the memories of dementia patients and increase blood flow to the brain, but it carries the risk of side effects including bleeding, dizziness, and vomiting.

Even the most effective over-the-counter health supplements, like gingko biloba, have drawbacks that should not be taken lightly. Many more simply don’t do what they claim to. Before buying any non-prescription supplements, do your research, talk to other users, and make an informed decision on your own terms.

Tamera Mulkey is a freelance blogger, who writes about health topics. If you want to make a career in the health industry, Tamera recommends getting a master of science in nursing online.

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B12 injections For Weight Loss

One of the easiest ways that you can lose any additional weight you have been carrying around is the use of B12 shots for weight loss. The perfect way to get great weight loss results would be B12 shots for weightloss because of how effective they are.

These vitamins are found naturally in some of the healthiest foods that you could put into your body. However, you will save yourself time and money by simply using these shots in order to get the same benefits without the additional calories that you would otherwise take in. Weight loss is very simple, reduce the amount of calories you take in each day. Once you do this, simply burn off what you are putting into your body and you will experience great results. Many people find this difficult to do because of the fact that they have very little energy or time at the end of each day. When you feel constantly worn out, it is very hard to find the motivation to get in the exercise that is needed in order to shed extra pounds. The greatest thing about these shots is the energy boost that they provide.

Many medical clinics suggest B12 shots for weight-loss to their patients, this is because b12 is proven to boost your metabolism and allow you to burn fast much faster than you have in the past. With B12 shots for weight loss your system will begin working more efficiently, it will help you to burn off anything that you are eating much faster. Since your system is working harder to burn off calories, you will be able to spend less time exercising than you are currently.  One of the most common excuses that people use to avoid exercise is to say they lack the time required. However, this is simply a matter of having the right tools to get the job done in the shortest possible time. Additionally, these shots have been shown to help provide you with a boost of energy, this can make exercise more enjoyable and much easier to commit to. Losing weight is something that millions of people make a promise to take up every day. However, most of these promises are broken simply because the person believes it is just too hard to lose weight. These shorts are the perfect solution, they can help you to change your body with a lot bit of science and exercise. While there are many choices available to you, these shots are proven to provide results. When you are in need of a dramatic change, allowing b12 to work to your advantage can change your body forever. Avoid crash diets and take control of your weight with these injections.

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Healthy Juice Drinks – Boosting Those Energy Levels

If you’re feeling a bit drained, perhaps because you’ve been working too hard or have been suffering from a bit of stress lately, then why not give this Energy Boosting health juice a try. Not only will it give you a dose of B12, but it will also fight off any anaemia and improve your calcium levels.

Take the following ingredients:

1 heaped teaspoon of spirulina

100g (3.5 oz) of wheatgrass

25g (1 oz) kale

Throw the wheatgrass and kale into a juicer and juice thoroughly for a minute or two. Add in the spirulina powder and stir vigorously. Pour it into a tall glass and then leave it in the fridge for half an hour. Add some ice and then serve. It might not taste brilliant (though it isn’t bad) but it is an amazing energy booster and has some wonderful health benefits, containing vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin C, chlorophyll, iron, calcium and adding no more than a mere 30 calories to your daily diet.

Alex is a food writer and blogger. He loves writing about beautiful food and healthy living and currently writes for Coupon Croc

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Which Foods are Antioxidant-rich?

If you want to keep your immune system healthy and prevent flu and colds, you might want to try a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. This is because these foods contain antioxidants that help strengthen the immune system and ward off infections like flu and colds.

Let’s take a closer look at what are antioxidants and in which foods they are found.

Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that repair and protect cells from the harm created by free radicals. Many experts think that this damage plays a significant function in a number of chronic diseases, including arthritis, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and cancer. Free radicals can also deteriorate the immune system. In contrast with free radicals, antioxidants help to maintain the strength of the immune system and protect you against colds, flu and other infections.

Although adding an assortment of fruits and vegetables to your diet will help to improve your health, you should remember that some foods are richer in antioxidant content than others. The three main antioxidant vitamins are vitamin C, beta-carotene and vitamin E. It is more likely to find these vitamins in fruits and vegetables which are brightly colored, mainly in foods colored purple, blue, red, orange and yellow. To take full advantage of the healthful effects of antioxidants, these foods should  be consumed raw or slightly steamed. Do not overcook and do not boil these foods.

Beta-carotene and other carotenoids come from broccoli, asparagus, beets, apricots, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, cabbage, green pepper, mangoes, turnips, peaches, pink grapefruit, tangerines, spinach, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, tomatoes and watermelon.

Vitamin C can be found in cantaloupe, broccoli, brussels sprouts, berries, cauliflower, mangoes, honeydew, kale, grapefruit, nectarines, oranges, tomatoes, peppers (green, yellow and red), peas, sweet potatoes, strawberries and papaya.

Foods rich in vitamin E are broccoli, carrots, beets, turnips, mango, dried fruit, pumpkin, papaya, red peppers, sunflower seeds and spinach.

For a diet richer in antioxidants, you may also enjoy the benefits of honey, prunes, apples, raisins, berries, plum, red grapes, alfalfa sprouts, onions, eggplant and beans. Vitamins are not the only type of antioxidants present in foods. Other antioxidants that can help strengthen the immune system are zinc and selenium. Zinc is found in dairy products, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, seafood, oysters, fortified cereals and whole grains. Selenium is found in brazil nuts, tuna, beef, poultry, fortified bread and other cereal products.

Most antioxidant-rich foods will help to keep optimal health and proper functioning of the immune system. It is advisable to consume the recommended daily intake of antioxidant vitamins and minerals. If you cannot obtain a sufficient quantity of fresh produce, many experts suggest taking a multivitamin that also contains minerals. Be careful if you decide to take a supplement to strengthen your immune system. Antioxidants such as vitamins E and A, for example, are accumulated in the body and eliminated slowly. An excessive amount of antioxidants can be harmful.

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Health Benefits of Cod Liver Oil

Due to an abundance of evidence supporting omega-3 intake as an important factor for health, many health enthusiasts have begun to take various forms of fish oil supplements. Fish oil in general is one of the best-supported health supplements in terms of research, which is notable because most health products are characterized by a lack of supporting evidence.

Given these facts, it’s safe to say most people would benefit from some kind of fish oil, but it’s still unclear which is most beneficial to overall health. Relatively recently, cod liver oil has begun to gain momentum, as it seems to be a very good alternative to conventional fish oils.

Cod Liver Oil in Comparison with other Fish Oils

The first thing to note about cod liver oil is that it clearly comes from the liver, rather than various other parts of the fish. Liver in general is virtually the most nutrient-dense food available and it’s extracts follow suit. It is high in vitamin D, which is important for the regulation of hormones and increasing bone density, as it regulates the absorption of calcium. Moreover, due to it’s effect on hair-growth cycles, a link has been established between vitamin D deficiency and hair loss.

Cod liver oil is also high in vitamin A, which has various functions including determining visual acuity and many other processes in the body. The article What Does Vitamin A Do? Highlights some of it’s key functions and it’s general importance in diet.

Finally, cod liver oil is rich with omega-3s, which are the primary reason most people choose to take fish oil supplements. These are particularly effective because – as with vitamin A and D – omega-3s in cod liver oil occur in their natural form rather than a processed imitation. This makes the nutrients easier to absorb and eliminates the chance of missing out on key components of the nutrient.

In conclusion, fish oil supplements are generally a good bet as long as you get them from a reputable source, and cod liver oil is definitely worthy of consideration when choosing a fish oil supplement.

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Should We Be Concerned About The Side Effects Of Natural Health Supplements?

‘Natural’ and ‘herbal’ health supplements are big business. With so many of us on a mission to be slim, fit and healthy, it seems as if a new weight loss or dietary supplement is entering the market each and every week. In most cases, the marketing for such supplements is based upon the ‘natural’ and ‘herbal’ aspects of the products, and we’re led to believe that because the packets are adorned with these words, that they’re safe.

However, this isn’t always true. ‘Herbal’ products are not subjected to the same levels of testing as those that are classed as medicines. This means that not only is there little to any proof that the products actually do what they claim, but that they also might incite unwanted side effects that could be unpleasant or even dangerous.

For example, one of the most renowned herbal supplements ‘St John’s Wort’ is in most cases, safe. St John’s Wort is used as a natural and supposedly safe antidepressant, yet it does have side effects, and it can interact with a number of other supplements or medicines, reducing the effectiveness of the product itself.

Ideally, in order to avoid experiencing negative side effects through any medicine, weight-loss or dietary supplement, consumers should deter from purchasing any products that are new to the market. The lack of official testing means that consumers will do better to wait until a product has been around for a length of time, and any side-effects have been reported by other users of the product.

Another example of a ‘natural’ product that has been around for some time is the acai berry. The berry has been available for purchase in supplement form for a number of years now, while the berries themselves have been utilised by tribes of the Amazon rainforest for thousands of years. It is because of this that we can safely conclude that acai berry side effects are few and far between.

However, like with many nutrient dense dietary supplements, acai berry side effects can occur if the product is consumed in too high a quantity, or in succession with other supplements such as a daily vitamin pill.

It is the vitamin pill that most people deem to be completely safe. However, when certain vitamins are consumed in too large quantities, side-effects can occur (sometimes serious ones), meaning that acai berry side effects and even vitamin pill side effects can occur if proper precautions are not taken.

For example, excessive consumption of Vitamin C can result in gastrointestinal problems, while Vitamin A can cause similar problems as well as drowsiness. Niacin (Vitamin B3) can cause stomach problems and headaches and should be avoided by people with liver disease. A regular or large overdose of iron can cause a loss of appetite, stomach upset as well as problems with the heart, liver and pancreas.

The above is merely a brief list of vitamins and the side effects that may be experienced if large quantities of said vitamin are consumed. With this in mind, it is important to consider that when taking any dietary supplement, whether it is something marketed as a weight loss supplement or just a simple vitamin pill that your body may react badly if it is taken in combination with other high vitamin foods or supplements.

For instance, while acai berry side effects are largely non-existent, it must be remembered that the berry contains a very high concentration of a number of vitamins, so acai berry side effects may occur if it is consumed in combination with a vitamin pill or similar dietary supplement.

This post was written by James Harper on behalf of Which Acai Berry? James writes on a number subjects including health, fitness and diet.

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