Before you start taking that supplement

By AltMed1-Peggy  


If you’re thinking of starting to take omega 3 or any new supplement that you haven’t taken before or haven’t taken recently, take time to become an informed consumer.


Do your homework.

  1. Read as much as you can about the supplement – pro and con – before you try it.  Know what conventional medicine says about the supplement as well as what alternative medicine says. You’ll find information in loads of health and nutrition books and magazines, brochures, single-sheet supplement handouts about individual supplements (free at health stores), and similar sources.
  2. Check reputable websites.
  3. Ask staff at your health store. Some health stores make sure all the people who work in their stores, especially those who talk to customers, are well informed and able to answer questions. Many also have nutritionists and other experts available for consultation.
  4. Consult a pharmacist. If you don’t have a pharmacist, go to a large drug store or grocery with in-store pharmacy and ask to speak with a pharmacist.


Learn as much as you can about the supplement.

  • Find out what the risks may be.
  • Find out how much to take. You should know both the recommended dose and the “ceiling” or do-not-exceed maximum dose
  • Find out how to take it. Some work best when taken with food; some should not be taken with food. Some may interfere with absorption of other supplements you take (such as iron and calcium, for example); others help your body use the supplement more effectively (such as iron with vitamin C). Some are better at bedtime; others at morning. And so on.
  • If you take any medications, find out if the supplement


Write it down.

If you don’t already keep a supplement record start now.  Call it a journal or a diary or a log or give it whatever label you like – just do it. 


  • Reason?  Say why you are trying this supplement. What do you hope it will do for you?  Many supplements have multiple benefits. If that’s true of the one you’re going to try, list the primary reason first, then note any secondary goals that are important to you. For example, if you were going to start taking Cosamin DS, a glucosamine-chondroitin supplement for joint pain, your Reason entry might say: Reduce hip pain. Move easier. Walk longer.
  • Date?  Date you start taking the supplement. If time (of day) taken matters with this supplement, note both date and time.
  • Dose?  How much are you taking? How often?
  • With?  What other supplements and/or medicines do you take on the same day you take the new. If the supplement is one of those that should be taken with food or on an empty stomach, note “with meal” or “empty stomach” and if it should not be taken at the same time as something else you take, note the times (when you took this supplement and when you took the other supplement or medicine)
  • Changes? Make a note of any changes you notice. Include improvements, even if you are not sure they’re related to the supplement, such as “memory better” … “legs didn’t ache like they usually do after long walk” … “not out of breath now”…  Also note any problems or concerns, such as “1st bloody nose since 4th grade” … “bruise easily” … “rash won’t go away…” “very tired but getting plenty of rest". 


You don’t have to make notes in your supplement log every single day, but do update it whenever you make any change or notice anything new. Keep making notes for at least six months.


Why so long? Some changes are so gradual or so subtle that they go unnoticed. Some may not show up until you’ve been using the supplement for several weeks or more. Some are like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle in the sense that one individual piece doesn’t show much but when added to other pieces (when you review your notes), patterns emerge or become more apparent.


Having a written record will cover any gaps that might creep into memory and also will make it easier to see “the big picture” to assess how this supplement is affecting you.



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