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Be a supplement savvy shopper

Published 4:54pm Saturday, January 4, 2014

This is the time of year that we think of as a new start. And with that new start often times comes the goal of improving our health. Many customers show up in the supplement aisle as their first step to planning for a healthier year.

The question of “Which supplements should I be taking?” is a popular one. I have to break the news that not all supplements are necessary and the best source of nutrients comes from our food.

However, there are reasons to consume certain supplements, but the key is to be savvy about choices.

First of all, consult with your physician on your medical history and your pharmacist for medication interactions prior to starting a supplement. Also, look for USP Verified on the label. The USP Dietary Supplement Verification Program is a voluntary testing and auditing program that helps dietary supplement manufacturers ensure they are making quality products for consumers. Here are some tips:

Multiple vitamin/mineral supplements: A multi-vitamin/mineral supplement can help fill nutrient gaps in our diets. These should not provide more than 100 percent recommended daily amount for most of the nutrients they contain.

Omega-3s/fish oil: It is recommended to consume fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, etc. two to three times each week. If you don’t like fish or do not consume it regularly, an omega-3 or fish oil supplement can be very helpful. It is recommended to consume at least 500 mg of EPA + DHA from an Omega-3 or fish oil supplement.

Individual vitamins, minerals and herbs: There are many situations in which an individual vitamin, mineral or herbal supplement is needed. Below are the most popular individual supplements:

Vitamin C: People who smoke, have inflammatory conditions or have wounds likely need more vitamin C than a healthy individual. Talk with your healthcare provider about your needs.

Vitamin B-12: There are many conditions that can reduce your ability to absorb B-12. If you are told your level is low, look for a sublingual B-12 to enhance absorption. A Hy-Vee pharmacist or dietitian can help you choose the one right for you.

Vitamin D: If you are told to take vitamin D supplements because your level is low, make sure to take them with food that contains a little fat to enhance absorption.

Folate: Deficiency of folate or folic acid can cause birth defects. Women who may become pregnant should consume 400 mcg of folic acid from a supplement or fortified food in addition to consuming a healthy diet.

Probiotics: Keep probiotics refrigerated for freshness. Patients with inflammatory gastrointestinal diseases may benefit from a product containing saccharomyces boulardi. For general health, a product containing lactobacillus and bifidus are recommended in the dosage of 1 — 10 billion CFU. A probiotic can help with the side effects of taking an antibiotic.

Calcium: Calcium is best absorbed when it’s taken in a dose of 500 mg or less per time. Be sure to get a specific recommendation from your physician on how much to take and the type to take. But also know that calcium can interact with certain medications, so always talk with your health care provider.

Chicken minestrone soup

Serves 9

All you need:

•1 tablespoon olive oil

•1 medium onion, diced

•2 stalks celery, chopped

•2 cloves garlic, minced

•1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed

•1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes

•1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

•3 cups Hy-Vee 33%-less-sodium chicken broth

•1 cup chopped cooked chicken

•1/3 cup quick-cooking barley

•1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano

•1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil

•Salt and pepper, to taste

All you do

1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery and garlic.  Cook until onion is tender, about 3 minutes.

2. Add sweet potato and continue to cook for 2 minutes.

3. Add tomatoes, beans, broth, chicken, barley, oregano and basil; cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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