How to Learn Vitamins, Minerals and Herbal Supplements

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    • 1). Talk to your doctor. Before you begin taking any supplements, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor. The doctor has your medical profile and knows what extra nutrients you need. You should be especially cautious if you are pregnant or nursing, have chronic illness or take prescription medications.

    • 2). Speak to a pharmacist. Pharmacists can tell you about dietary supplements that could benefit you. They can also inform you about supplement side effects and negative interactions with medications for high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and digestive problems. They can tell you if there are any major differences between brands of vitamins and herbal supplements.

    • 3). Visit an alternative medicine clinic. Make sure the facility and staff members are licensed and certified by organizations such as the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Numerous alternative medicine clinics host seminars and classes about vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements. Several even offer programs in which you earn certification in alternative medicine.

    • 4). Use credible websites. Look for online information backed by more than one research study and featuring articles written by certified individuals. If the website contains information that sounds too good to be true, you should be skeptical. The National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is a good source of reliable information about herbal supplements, including negative side effects.

    • 5). Read books. When you look for books about natural medicine, research the author's background. "What You Must Know about Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & More: Choosing Nutrients That Are Right for You" offers complete information about different supplements, how they affect the body and how they prevent disease. Dr. Pamela Wartian Smith, the author, has a medical degree plus certification in natural medicine.

    • 6). Take a class. Community colleges and universities offer classes that include information on vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements. You get detailed instruction on the plant and chemical components of these supplements. The classes also talk about benefits and allergic reactions from taking supplements. If you don't have time to take classes at a school, you can take at-home classes about alternative medicine.

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