A Supplements Guide: What You Need to Stay Healthy
Supplements can be downright confusing: One week, a particular vitamin prevents one disease; the next, it actually causes another. "Research is always evolving, and as we refine our understanding, guidelines change," says Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, director of the Antioxidants Research Laboratory at Tufts University in Boston. That's why one news report shouldn't cause panic. To help you (calmly) figure out which supplements are worth taking, we investigated the following claims.The Claim: If you're chronically tired, you're low in B-vitamin complex.
The Big Picture: Vitamin B complex, which includes B12, B6, and others, is necessary for your body's cells to produce energy, explains Heidi Becker, RD, who specializes in supplements. "But taking B vitamins doesn't have the same effect as, say, drinking a cup of coffee and feeling instantly awake; it's more like regularly putting oil in your car and having it run smoothly," says Becker. Plus, women are prone to other energy stealers, including stress and insomnia. Several medical conditions common in women, including iron-deficiency anemia and hypothyroidism, also cause fatigue.
Bottom Line: Before chalking your fatigue up to low B, talk to your doctor about whether any of the above-mentioned culprits could be the cause, and ask for a blood test. Also include vitamin B?rich foods in your diet, such as oatmeal, broccoli, yogurt, bananas, and lean red meats. Becker recommends taking a daily multi and if you're a vegetarian, a B12 supplement. (B12 is found naturally only in animal products, but you can also find it in fortified cereals.)
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