(BPT) - Maintaining a healthy diet that includes all the recommended vitamins and nutrients can be a challenge, particularly when the current food landscape is full of overly processed foods that rarely contain essential nutrients. Supplements can provide a great way to enhance a healthy diet with those elements you might be missing, but how do you go about figuring out what you need?
"Everyone stands to benefit from adding high quality supplements to their diets," says Registered Dietitian Paul Kriegler, Life Time weight loss and training supplementation expert. "The supplement industry, which is regulated by the FDA, though loosely, has a tarnished reputation with many consumers. There are irresponsible manufacturers who routinely make low quality products with inflated claims. However, there are also highly-reputable supplement producers who routinely earn the support and praise of medical professionals and fitness enthusiasts alike; the trick is finding out which companies are out for profits and which are focused on your health.'
When looking for supplements, keep these tips from Kriegler in mind, so you know you're getting exactly what you need:
1. Read the label - Nutrient forms can vary dramatically from one like product to another. The nutrient form not only determines the price of a product, but also influences whether that nutrient will be absorbed or not. After all, if you don't absorb what you're taking, you throw away a lot more money than when you spend more for something that actually works. Look for methylcobalamin over cyancobalamin, natural folate (5-methyl-tetra-hydro-folate) over folic acid, and mineral bisglycinates over cheaper carbonate and oxide forms.
2. Know your needs - Each body functions differently and has different supplemental needs. Life Time Fitness offers a variety of lab tests and assessments that give valuable insight into how your body operates. On-site registered dietitians can evaluate results to determine which supplements would best suit your body composition, diet, hormone, stress and sleep needs to ensure you're supplementing accurately. Cliff Edberg, registered dietitian at Life Time, notes that you are not what you eat, but what you eat, digest and absorb.
3. Look for certification - There are several certifications you can look for to ensure the supplements you buy follow a good manufacturing process and contain high quality ingredients. Certifications to look for include: Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CMPG), Therapeutic Goods of Australia (TGA), National Science Foundation (NSF) and United States Pharmacopeia (USP). For fish oil, look for International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS). In its clubs across the country and online, Life Time offers a line of branded products that carry only the highest quality, most efficacious and purest nutritional ingredients available.
4. Be wary of over-promising in the messaging - If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is when it comes to supplements promoting weight-loss miracles. Supplements are designed to enhance missing nutrients from a daily diet that the body needs. So if the label - or the commercial - is promising a huge change in your life from a simple pill, be suspicious and don't waste your money.
In the end, Kriegler encourages men and women to eat high quality, whole foods to get the nutrients they need, adding a high-quality multivitamin to fill in where your natural diet may be lacking in addition to other supplements recommended by a registered dietitian to enhance a healthy way of life.