The Supplements Lifestyle Guide: Using Them Correctly

Perhaps the main aim of taking dietary supplements is to improve your general health. That’s great! But the problem is, even though they are natural, buying them isn’t a straightforward process as you’d imagine. It takes more than just believe in the promising health claims on the sticker of the package.

Therefore, if you have been taking dietary supplements or planning to start taking them, there are facts you need to arm yourself with to get the most benefit they can give to your body.

What Are They?
Dietary supplements come in form of vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, probiotics, animal extracts and herbs. They come in a variety of forms to allow for easy consumption. For instance, you find them in capsule, liquid, or even powder.

Are They Safe?
They are considered natural, so they should be safe. However, you need to understand that even though they are natural, the level of safety entirely depends on an individual. So if you’re taking a medication or suffering from a certain illness, then you may need to consult with your doctor first, before taking any dietary supplement.

Again, some vitamins and minerals, when taken in excessive amounts can cause problems for you. For instance, too much of Vitamin A will reduce bone mineral density. But according to National Academy of science, too much of it can cause liver damage among other problems.

Supplements and the FDA
The FDA regulate the dietary supplement industry to some extent. But since dietary supplements are made of natural elements, the FDA treats them as food, rather than drug or medicine.

But one rule of the thumb when taking supplements is always to consult with your doctor if already taking any form of medication. The reason being, some elements (depending on the supplement you buy) might react with the medication you’re taking to cause side effects. Until the doctor says it’s safe for you, then you are free to go ahead and consume the supplement, together with the medication you might be taking at the time.

When focussing on Buying Dietary Supplements: Things to look for.

(a) The label
The label should contain the name of the supplement, the manufacturer, their address and phone number. Then you should also see a complete list of the ingredients, as well as active ingredients and the size in which you should serve.

(b) Nutrient quantity
You need to watch how much of each nutrient is in the package you’re buying. It’s not wise to exceed the tolerable upper intake level (UI) for each of the nutrients presented.

(c) Has it been certified?
Has the supplement been certified by the respective organization that reviews them for safety? You can always try to locate a blue and yellow seal from the United States Pharmacopeia, or a symbol from Consumer or NSF International.

(d) Are claims too good to be true?
Claims made by supplements must fall into these 3 categories: nutrient content claim, health claim, as well as structure & function claim.

But there are cases when you may not understand the information printed on the label. In this case, ask a pharmacist to interpret it for you. You can also call the manufacturer directly and they will explain it for you.

You might want to know if there are any scientific studies backing the supplement. Then you may also want to know where the product was made. You see, if it was made outside the U.S, then safety standards may vary, so you need to take note of such little things. You can also check if adverse side effects have been reported, or if the product has been recalled.

How to Take Supplements Safely and Get The Most Benefit

1 Instructions come with the package on how to take them. Make sure you follow them as stated.
2 You need to keep a list of all medication and supplements you are currently using.
3 You need to record how much you’re taking and time in which you’re taking it. The reason being, you might confuse or forget that you had taken a particular supplement, so you might retake it again, thus overdosing yourself.

In general, dietary supplements of any nature, when manufactured according to standards will be safe to consume. In fact, most people don’t see any adverse side effects with them. But in case you experience side effects, you may discontinue the supplement and call the doctor for an alternative.

3 True Facts About Cognitive Function

Cognitive function basically refers to an individual’s ability to process thoughts, new information and retrieve memory of past and present occurrences. Lack or regression of cognitive function is seen mainly in elderly people and people who have suffered memory loss due to an accident. This impairment sometimes causes acute delays and inability to function at highest potential in everyday tasks especially if they used to be easy before. Research in the studies of cognitive function have divided it into three main parts, that is attention, working memory and long term memory

1. Attention

This involves the ability to do every day single tasks unless they have become habitual like answering the phone. This involves some level of concentration at the very least to remember how to do something in the correct manner so as to shorten the period of time done and number of accidents. They include

• Selective attention that involves one doing a small stimuli of sensing and drawing out he most important information piece and disregarding the irrelevant information.

• Divided attention that involves exposure to an individual to two simultaneous instructions where one is instructions are relayed. It is not surprising to see that young individuals score higher in this than elderly people as the listening and processing of the material is slower in aged individuals

• Sustained attention. This is one part that elderly people have over time ranked highly over young people. The reason deduced is that over time the discipline of concentrating on one thing and not getting bored and tired as fast has developed through the years. However there is the exception of individuals who are quick to forget why they are doing something in the first place.

The attention tests used were to be implemented in practical everyday situation like driving that required all three. Thus decline in this disqualified many elderly people as selective attention and divided attention scenarios occur during driving.

2. Working memory.

Working memory is another aspect of cognitive function that was highlighted. This was important in the aspects of problem solving, decision making and language recognition where elderly individuals showed a decline that was explained by three theories

I. Attention resources that explains the processing of information and the concentration of basic concepts and thus enable one to remember how to do things

II. Processing information power that is how to interpret things in the present manner. A decline was showed in elderly individuals and thus they were remarkably slower in answering questions that are seemingly easy for younger individuals

III. Inhibitory control that enables people to suppress irrelevant information and thus be able to access relevant information for processing. A decline in this factors slowed an individual’s perception in doing things

A decrease in working memory showed a decrease in ways and manners of doing things especially in elderly individuals thus a decrease in processing information power reduces reaction in talking and acting manner.

3. Long term Memory
Aging is usually associated with memory lapses and this is usually connected to deficiencies in elderly individuals. This is usually commonly known as Alzheimer’s disease. To explain this concept long term memory has been divided into specific parts.

I. Episodic memory- this particular concept is divided and thus deemed responsible for encoding and decoding information of a particular event thus bringing about the  ‘I remember’ episodes of personal events that happened in an individual’s life

II. Sematic memory- this was the general information gathered through life time experiences and general knowledge of how things work and how things are bringing about the ‘I know’ effect.

III. Autobiographical memory- this is basically a combination of sematic and episodic memory and the encoding, retrieval and decoding of information of past and present happenings. It was generally seen that in elderly people recalling and retrieval of recent events was easier to remember.

IV. Procedural memory- this has to do with skills that are one has acquired over the years that do ot necessarily require active use of thinking abilities, just remembrance like bicycle riding and playing the piano. Conclusion on studies showed that this varied with individuals but somehow was inhibited by working memory function.

V. Prospective memory- far the first thing seen in loss of cognitive function as individual’s tend to forget appointments and specific important dates and events or where they had placed specific things.

As a whole the long term memory studies showed that it could be improved with practice except the case of prospective memory where individuals had to undergo self initiated activities.