With all the options for herbal and dietary supplements out there, how can you know what is actually good for your health? While there are a lot of them that won’t really do much of anything, some can actually harm you, rather than help you. Did you know that federal regulations for supplements do not require that a manufacturer show the product’s safety or effectiveness before it is sold? No matter what you are considering adding to your regular diet, consult a physician before you start. Here are some of the more effective supplements and how they can help you.

Folic Acid (or Vitamin B9): In humans, folic acid is essential for many metabolic processes. It helps with the synthesis of nucleic acids and the formation of the iron-carrying component in red blood cells. Too little folic acid can prevent the proper maturation of red blood cells, resulting in anemia. In pregnant women, folic acid is essential for the formation of the brain and spinal cord in fetuses. Taking folic acid early in the pregnancy can reduce the instance of premature birth and deformities. The recommended amount of folic acid in pregnant women is about 400 micrograms. Folic acid is non-toxic, but women should not take more than 1,000 micrograms of it a day, as it may hide the ability to diagnose a vitamin B-12 deficiency.

Zinc: Zinc works to help our immune systems functioning properly in addition to supporting protein synthesis. It is mostly found in immune cells and in the strong muscles of the body, but it also plays a role in your eyes, liver, kidneys, bones and pancreas. There are approximately 300 enzymes in our bodies that require zinc for normal functioning and 3000 proteins that contain zinc. Normally, we have between two and three grams of zinc in our bodies. Eating meat, oysters, turnips, peas, oats, peanuts, almonds and whole wheat are all good ways to get zinc, but you can also supplement your intake with up to 450 milligrams.

Calcium: You already know you need calcium, but did you know what for? More than just strong bones, calcium plays a key role in the function of your heart and metabolism. Many people who do not get enough calcium are overweight because their bodies think they are starving and release hormones that promote fat production and limit its breakdown. Calcium protects your heart as well, and promotes healthy blood pressure. An adequate amount of calcium helps your muscles,like your heart,contract and relax better. It can also help premenstrual mood swings, as these symptoms are very similar to a calcium-deficient state. Turns out, it is the same hormone that causes both, so taking calcium corrects those symptoms effectively. You can safely have up to 2500 milligrams of calcium a day, but as a healthy adult you don’t need more than 1000 a day.

Vitamin D: If you are concerned about your calcium intake, you should consider its special partner, vitamin D. This vitamin plays an important role in your body’s absorption of calcium, as well as the specialization of cells for specific functions in the body. It also boosts immunity and plays a role in insulin secretion, crucial for proper digestion and metabolism. Deficiencies are related to Osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. It is rare but possible to overdose on vitamin D, but children and adults should not have more than five micrograms per day for anyone under the age of 50.

There are definite benefits in taking vitamins, but be mindful of how much you are getting from your diet and stick to the recommended guidelines. Talk to a doctor or nutritionist before you add anything to your diet, as they will know how much you need to supplement and whether or not any of these products will interact with medication you may already be on. Do your best to get these vitamins in your regular diet though,it will keep you eating healthy and making good choices all around!

Learn more nutritional tips to improve your health at our Chicago Chiropractic clinic website. Our blog has numerous posts on this topic.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Rosenthal studied medicine at the University of Wisconsin. With more than ten years of experience in chiropractic medicine, Dr. Rosenthal practices medicine through his Chicago chiropractic clinic.