Supplements are having a moment right now, but are they worth the hype? While they can be a huge help for folks who are low in specific essential nutrients — especially a folate or b12 deficiency — it's worth considering whether a new supplement is truly right for you. The Global Council on Brain Health suggests keeping a few key factors in mind before spending your hard-earned cash on a pricey pill. When in doubt, ask yourself these questions first:
Have I talked to my doctor about this?
It's always a good idea to speak with your health provider about any new vitamins or supplements you want to try. Your doctor can let you know if those supplements would interact with any medications you're already taking. He or she may also have a totally different supplement recommendation in mind for you, especially if you happen to be deficient in any nutrients.
Am I already getting enough nutrients through food?
Generally, food is typically the best way for most people to get the nutritients they need. Consider adding more foods to your diet that naturally contain vitamins that you're low in. For instance, if you need more vitamin C, you may want to try eating more citrus fruits, broccoli, and sprouts before you think about turning to a supplement.
Have I taken a close look at the label?
Always check for any warnings related to your specific health conditions. The last thing you want to do is unnecessarily put your health at risk. If you're using a new brand of supplements you're unfamiliar with, do your research to find out if the products have third-party quality assurance. If you're not sure, ask your doctor.
Am I taking too many supplements already?
More is not always better. Be sure that you're not taking more of any individual supplement (or multiple supplements) than recommended. In some cases, vitamins and minerals can potentially be toxic if the levels become too high in your body.
Does this sound too good to be true?
You should be wary if a supplement claims to cure any disease, make you smarter, or improve your brain health. Always do your research, keep your eyes open for any red flags, and trust your gut!