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How to Get Started with Supplements

Being concerned about your health is normal - especially in this day and age. In addition to a proper diet and exercise routine, you may be wondering - what vitamins and supplements should I be taking? The supplement market is saturated with options, but in this guide we will help you cut through the mess. No time to read? Take our quick 2-minute Supplement Quiz to find the right supplements for you.

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Why Supplement in the First Place?

First things first - supplements are not magic pills. They are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure disease. Supplements are about restoring balance to your system.

You can think of vitamins and minerals as fuel. Your body needs vitamins and minerals to perform even the most basic functions. There are some nutrients that the body produces naturally, but there are also some, known as essential nutrients, that you must acquire from outside sources like diet or supplementation.

Each and every day, we are exposed to diet and lifestyle factors that may increase the demand your body has for certain vitamins and minerals. If we do not respond by getting an adequate amount of these nutrients, this may result in a nutrient deficiency.†

By choosing to supplement with vitamins and minerals, you are giving your body more of the fuel it needs to operate.  

Below you will find our short beginner's guide to supplementation:

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DO NOT TAKE: A Store Bought Multivitamin

It may be easy to jump straight to a generic multivitamin to cover all of your bases. We do not recommend taking a multivitamin for several reasons:

  • Multivitamins often do not contain the effective amount of each ingredient

  • Multivitamins often contain the cheapest form of a vitamin or mineral

  • Cheaper forms of vitamins and minerals are often not the most bio-available forms - you may think you're getting a deal for the price, but your body will get little to no benefit

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DO TAKE: Magnesium

Magnesium is an essential nutrient, meaning we must get it from our diets or supplements. Magnesium is best known for bone health and energy, but this mineral can also:

  • Support nervous system health†

  • Support a healthy stress response†

  • Support healthy sleep patterns†

  • Support muscle and nerve function†

  • Support healthy blood sugar levels†

  • Make protein, bone and DNA†

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DO TAKE: Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an essential vitamin, meaning your body cannot produce it and we must get Vitamin C from outside sources like diet or supplementation. The benefits of an adequate amount of Vitamin C may include:

  • Healthy blood pressure†

  • Healthy heart†

  • Healthy iron levels†

  • Healthy immune system†

  • Memory and cognitive performance while aging†

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Zinc can be be lower in people who are older or are under high stress. Zinc supports the immune system and helps you process carbs, proteins and fats for energy.

The American diet is not rich in Zinc and the body cannot store Zinc, so Zinc remains high on our list of supplements everyone should take daily.

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DO TAKE: B Vitamins

The B-vitamin complex is made up of eight vitamins that work together to create and sustain our body’s energy supply by breaking down the micronutrients we consume (fats, proteins, carbs).

Each has a specialized role, too. For example, Vitamin B-12 works to keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material in all cells. Vegan or vegetarians are prone to vitamin B-12 deficiency because most food sources are animal-based like meat, poultry, fish, and eggs.

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DO TAKE: Probiotics

Probiotics are living microorganisms that, when ingested, provide a health benefit.

The complex community of microorganisms in your gut is called the gut flora, gut microbiota, or gut microbiome.

Surprisingly, the metabolic activities of your gut flora resemble those of an organ. For this reason, some scientists refer to the gut flora as the “forgotten organ”.

Your gut flora performs many important health functions:

  • It manufactures vitamins, including vitamin K and some of the B vitamins.

  • It turns fibers into short-chain fats like butyrate, propionate, and acetate, which feed your gut wall and perform many metabolic functions.

  • These fats also support your immune system and strengthen your gut wall. This can help prevent unwanted substances from entering your body and provoking an immune response.

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DO TAKE: Choline

Choline is our final essential nutrient, meaning we also must get choline from outside sources like diet or supplementation. Choline plays important roles in the human body, including:

  • Cell structure: It is needed to make fats that support the structural integrity of cell membranes.

  • Cell messaging: It is involved in the production of compounds that act as cell messengers.

  • Fat transport and metabolism: It is essential for making a substance required for removing cholesterol from your liver. Inadequate choline may result in fat and cholesterol buildup in your liver.

  • DNA synthesis: Choline and other vitamins, such as B12 and folate, help with a process that’s important for DNA synthesis.

  • A healthy nervous system: This nutrient is required to make acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter. It’s involved in memory, muscle movement, regulating heartbeat and other basic functions.

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How to Decide Which Supplements are Best for You

The 7 nutrients above are great places to start for beginners. This does not mean that you need to take all 7. Your body has unique needs that differ from your spouse, kids, and neighbors. Here are our top tips for shopping around:

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Set your health goals

Why do you want to start a supplement routine?

Maybe recent events have sparked an interest in immune health supplements. Or maybe you’re trying to start a family, in which case you need nutrients that support fertility and fetal development. Whatever your goals are, make them specific and focused. You want to be able to articulate them clearly with your doctor or healthcare provider.

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Speak with a healthcare professional

Before starting a supplement routine, it’s imperative that you speak with a physician or registered dietitian.

Talk to them about your health goals, so they understand your concerns. Tell them about any and all medications you are currently taking (if they don’t already have it on file).

Dietary supplements can interfere with prescription drug therapies. Some nutrients can have negative interactions with one another, as well.

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Comparison shop

Not all supplements are created equally. Supplement manufacturers do a lot to differentiate themselves in a saturated market.

Look out for unnecessary additives. If you can, ask the company where they source their ingredients.

Get as much information as you can from various brands. Decide what characteristics are most important for you, and then narrow down the brands based on how many boxes they check.

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Be patient

Unless you’re taking an intravenous supplement, you probably won’t notice any changes right away.

Supplements take time.

Exactly how long it takes for supplements to work depends on several factors. The amount you’re taking, the severity of your deficiency (if applicable) and the quality of the formula can all affect a nutrient’s efficacy.

So, be patient. Wait it out for a few weeks – maybe even six to 10 – before you give up on or alter your supplement routine.

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Adjust along the way

While you’re waiting, take note of how you feel. If you notice any changes (for worse or for better), jot them down to share with your doctor.

Based on your feedback, they might recommend a different potency, a different mix of supplements or a different supplement form.

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The Best Route is to Make Things Personal

We all have unique lives, diets and environments, which makes generalizing the vitamins and minerals you should be supplementing with more difficult. The above list is a great place to start, but if you are looking for personalized recommendations based on your unique needs, take the 2-Minute UMZU Supplement Quiz to find the exact UMZU supplements that fit your needs.