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Posts tagged ‘herbs’

Your Questions About Vitamins & Nutritiona​l Supplement​s Answered

More than 50% of Americans take dietary supplements, yet many people are not sure which ones to take, how much to take or  when to take them. Here are the answers to your most frequently asked questions about vitamins and supplements.

What time of day should I take vitamins and other nutritional supplements?

Most dietary supplements including your daily multiple vitamin, vitamins A,B Complex, C and D or Omega 3 fish oilcapsules can be consumed  any time of day,

Polski: Suplement diety - kwasy omega 3 na baz...

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preferably with your largest meal of the day. Most people prefer to take them with their breakfast or lunch. It’s important to remember that it’s better to take your supplements with food in order to help with proper digestion, absorption and optimum utilization.

However, not all supplements should be taken with food and best utilized when on an empty stomach before a meal. That’s why it’s essential to read the label directions.

As an example, plant sterols and stanols as found in products like Super Sterol Protein Complex and Cholesto-Plex should are best taken before mealtimes. If you are taking plant sterol supplements to help promote healthy cholesterol levels, try to  take them 15-30 minutes before a meal for optimal effectiveness.

How do I decide which vitamin and nutritional supplements are best for me?

Determining which supplements you should take begins with properly understanding your diet. If specific nutrients are missing from your regular diet, it’s best to consult a nutritional healthcare practitioner or talk to your primary health care provider. To help assure fulfillment of nutrient “gaps” many people choose a comprehensive daily multivitamin & mineral supplement. It’s the most convenient and effective way to assure optimal vitamin and mineral levels.

If you are looking for the most appropriate formulation for you, be sure to identify one that is formulated to meet your specific age-related, personal fitness level and basic gender needs. For example, iron requirements for women over age of 50 are typically 8 mg per day while the needs for women under 50 are 18 mg per day. Multivitamins for women over the age of 50 should contain little to no iron because 8 mg per day can usually be acquired through the regular diet.

A multivitamin for men over the age of 50 should not contain iron and may often include other ingredients that may not typically be included in a woman’s multiple vitamin such as Lycopene, L-Carnitine, L-Histidine, Saw Palmetto, etc.

Conversely, a good woman’s multi-vitamin supplement may contain ingredients not included in a man’s formula such as: Herbal Black Cohosh, Gamma Linoleic Acid, Calcium, Iron, etc.

While a multivitamin is ideal for supplementing basic vitamins and minerals, some people need more than one single multi-combination formula. For example, many people today are advised to take extra vitamin C, calcium and vitamin D. Some people cannot tolerate milk or milk products,  the most potent sources of calcium, and many people do not maintain sufficient levels of vitamin D. Although a multivitamin provides these nutrients, it may not supply enough of each to keep your levels adequate.

In addition, a multivitamin is often formulated with a combination of vitamins and minerals only, not other key nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil, protein, amino acids or coenzyme Q10.

If you don’t consume at least two to three servings of fatty fish (i.e. salmon, anchovies, sardines) each week then you should consider taking a daily fish oil supplement. If you take a statin drug to lower your cholesterol levels, you may be at risk of low blood levels of coenzyme Q10, and otherbeneficial antioxidant nutrients that protect your heart. Thus, if you’ve been prescribed statin drug, taking a coenzyme Q10 supplement could be very valuable.

Again, be sure to talk to a nutritional healthcare practioner or your primary physician when deciding on a safe and effective nutritional supplement program.

Can you take too much?

Many supplements can be safely taken in amounts greater than the Recommended Daily Value (DV) or Recommended Daily allowance (RDA). The percent daily value (%DV) displayed on the label denotes what percent of the recommended intake amount for a specific nutrient is met per serving.

Numerous studies have shown that taking certain nutrients in amounts greater than 100% DV may have valuable health benefits. For example… Consuming higher levels of Vitamin C, Beta Carotene and Vitamin E may promote stronger immune function and help protect the body against free radical damage.

When taking supplements including herbs, vitamins, minerals etc. it is important to follow the suggested use, dosage and to consider which is the highest amount that can be safely consumed. Before taking any vitamin or supplement, be sure to carefully review the precautions and instructions  on the product’s label.

Can I take supplements with my prescription medications?

Be sure to inform your doctor or healthcare practitioner about all the dietary supplements you take, even if you take them occasionally. This is especially important because some dietary supplements may interfere with prescription medications and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, perhaps causing those prescriptions and OTCs to be less effective.

Conversely, some medications cause certain nutrients levels to drop and so taking supplements can help support your nutrient status and overall health when taking such drugs. Statin drugs, for example, have been known to lower blood levels of the antioxidant nutrient coenzyme Q10. To that end, individuals taking statin drugs are often advised to supplement with coenzyme Q10.

It’s important to let your doctor know the dosage and the frequency of use for all the supplements you are taking.   Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about potential nutrient depletions that may occur with your medication(s) so you can be sure to  restore those key nutrient levels with proper supplementation.

Can I take supplements after the expiration date?

When a vitamin nutritional supplement expires, it is not necessarily harmful to consume. Expiration dates on most dietary supplements are actually “best if used by” guidelines.

However, the active ingredients may no longer be up to the potency specified on the label. If in doubt about an expired product, you may want  to discard that product and purchase a fresh, new batch.

Can I cut vitamin and nutritional supplement tablets into smaller pieces if I can’t swallow them whole?

Most supplements may be cut in half, milled into powder or chewed if swallowing is a problem.

Softgels (soft gelatin capsules) that are too large for you to comfortably swallow may be punctured or cut in half to empty the contents into a spoon or food.

Two-piece hard shell gelatin capsules may be opened easily to release the contents into food or a beverage.

Be advised, the only products not recommended to cut into smaller pieces are those that are timed-release or enteric coated. Such supplements should be swallowed whole to assure the best performance.

Where is the best place to store vitamins and nutritional supplements?

Storage directions are commonly explained on a vitamin label. Most often, storing the bottles in a cool, dry place with the cap tightly sealed is recommended. Certain formulations may require special storage conditions such as refrigeration.

Always keep these products out of reach of children and pets.

This article is for informational and educational purposes only; It is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your doctor or healthcare professional.


History of Herbal Medicine

Herbs have been used from the beginning of man and were the first herbal
used by man. While allopathic medicine (the use of minerals to
treat disease) is only about 500 years old. The use of herbal medicine dates back several thousands of years B.C. The Chinese, Sumerians, and Egyptians all used plants for medicinal purposes. In the Old Testatment times, several herbs are mentioned, aloe is one of them.

One third of the medicinal plants and herbs listed in modern pharmacopoeia were known and used by the Egyptians. Here is a list of the herbs that were used, garlic, flax seed, fennel, juniper, sycamore, pine, senna, thyme, celandine, cinquefoil, black hellebore, tamarisk, celery, mandrake, henbane, willow, mulberry, myrrh, saffron, thyme, and onion, to name a few.

The knowledge of herbal medicine during the Middle Ages can be tribute to the monks, who not only copied the ancient manuscripts, but also cultivated their own herbal gardens in monasteries and used the herbs for many common disorders. In England during Elizabethan era, herbalism experienced a golden age, from which most of our herbals derives.
After the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, a large number of books on herbs were printed. In 1551, William Turner published his book, Newe Herball with illustrations on a variety of medicinal plants. John Gerard published his herbal book, The Herball or General Historie of Plantes, in 1597. The next noteworthy English herbalist was John Parkinson who in 1640 wrote Theatrum Botanicum, an encyclopedic work covering 3,000 plants and their medicinal uses. The English Physician Enlarged was written in 1653 by Nicolas Culpepper. He was the most controversial of the English herbalists.

In the 18th century William Salmon’s The English Herbal or History of
Plants, published in London in 1710, and An History of Plants and Trees,
Natives of Britain, Cultivated for use, or Raised for Beauty, by John Hill was
published in London in 1756. The introduction of naturopathy in America can be
attributed to Samuel Thompson. Samuel Thompson along with herbs used Thompson used diet, steam baths and massage. His motto was “To make every man his own physician.” Many people followed his theories after he died. Many doctors continued to use His ideas of relaxation, stimulation, and astringents because they were satisfied with the results.

For centuries the American Indians and native of other
countries have used all kinds of herbs, roots, barks in the healing art, and they still use them today. As more and more settlers arrived in the New World from Europe, their knowledge of herbs was combined with that of the herbals of the Native Americans and produced a distinctly American folk medicine. The Orthodox medical establishments in Europe and America started to move away from natural methods of healing and replied more on chemicals, leeches, and bloodletting.


When I was a child I was raised by my grandparents. And we lived out off of the highway back in the woods. Since we live out off of the highway my grandfather had a garden and my grandmother had chickens. So our veggies were pure, no preservatives or anything artificial. The chickens were not injected with hormone so our food was basically pretty natural.

However we had to get detox before summer and winter came around. My grandparents gave us cod liver oil for detoxification. I did not like it at that time because the fish oil smelled like fish and the oil tasted bad. But now I know that it was good for me and a good thing to do.

The detoxing kept us healthy and I don’t remember getting sick. Today we have herbal products to detox our bodies gently and safely.

Detoxing helps cleanse the liver and colon so that these organs can continue to function properly the way they were made to. Detoxification is a good thing because we ingest so many toxins from everywhere, the air, water, chemicals, skin products, food, our work environment and the list goes on. And over time these toxins stay in our bodies which cause problems down the road.

Our immune systems get weaken because of the toxins being left in our bodies that have not been eliminated. Every person is different when it comes to eliminating waste. Some of us detox naturally by going two to three times a day and then there are the rest of us that need some help!

That help for me has been herbs not the ones that my grandparents used with the fish smell but different ones. Detoxification is real and a good practice now days to do.

Immune Function

Your body’s immune system is an intricate network of cells, structures and processes that protect your body from disease and illness. When it comes to supporting immune function, single nutrients such as vitamin C may not be enough. Read on to find out more.

The complex immune system is responsible for the biodefenses of the body. Cells of the immune system play a direct role in immunity, especially through the production of antibodies and chemical messengers, substances that contribute to the complex cascade of immune events.


These events involve intelligent communications within the immune system and
throughout all tissues of the body. Various types of white cells circulate in
the blood or are found together in lymphatic tissues. Lymph nodes, bone marrow,
the spleen and the thymus gland contain clumps of special white blood cells
that are pivotal structures of the immune system.


A complex series of chemical messengers is shared among cells in the immune system. Antibody production by specific types of white cells aids in clearing the
tissue fluids of harmful intruders, e.g., antigens or microorganisms (viruses,
bacteria and yeasts). The biodefenses within the immune system are not simple in their structure or function.
Elaborate mechanisms of defense are present at entry sites into the body,
including the nasal passages, throat and entire gastrointestinal tract.

Understanding the complexity of the body structure and functions involved in immunity is a difficult task for even the most knowledgeable health care professional. This complexity makes it highly unlikely that any single drug, nutrient or botanical by itself will have an efficient overall effect on balancing or
promoting immune function. This means that immune function may be best
supported by a healthy lifestyle and the synergistic actions of combined substances (nutrients, herbs and botanicals) that support multiple components of immune function.


Alterations in the balance of immune function are responsible for the cause or progression of many common diseases and ailments. People talk about boosting immune function, but most often they really mean balancing or modulating immune function. Independent laboratory studies show that complex combinations of herbs, botanicals and nutrients may help to accomplish this (

The additive benefits and versatile nature of many different natural agents in a dietary supplement may work together to help support many different aspects of immune function (Table 1).

Andrographis paniculata

Acanthopanax senticosus

Green tea


Grape seed extract


Vitamin C


Oregon grape

Shiitake mushroom

Echinacea purpurea


Golden thread

Aloe Vera



Korean ginseng

Coriolus versicolor

Active Hexose Correlate Compound

Beta glucan

Table 1: Nutrients, herbs and botanicals with scientific evidence of nutritional benefits for immune function.

Any natural agent that exerts an antioxidant function can be potentially valuable in promoting healthy immune function. This is because oxidative stress or free radical damage to components of the immune system is a common reason for impaired immunity. In particular, the following antioxidants are of value for immune support: Vitamin C, zinc, green tea, turmeric, grape seed extract and
antioxidants found in a variety of herbs and botanicals (Table 1). Botanical
agents with specific immune-enhancing properties include several species of mushrooms, plant sources of beta glucan, Echinacea and the potent and versatile herb Andrographis paniculata (AP).

Nutritional support for immune function must be multifaceted.  Formulations of dietary supplements that contain several different natural ingredients may be an optimal way to provide nutritional support for immune function, but much further research is required on the subject.



Stephen Holt, M.D.


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