Handful of supplements
There are six health supplements that are known to help improve your overall health and well-being.

What Supplements Should I Take?

There are a host of other dietary supplements beyond the realm of vitamins, minerals, and herbs that can contribute to your health and well-being. The body manufactures some; some are consumed in food, and others are available in supplement form.

Scientists are just starting to understand how some of these nutritional supplements work and are beginning to conduct research to provide evidence of their health benefits.

Before taking any supplements, first be sure to research carefully the substance you're considering.

Wondering what supplements you should be taking? Here's an outline of some of the more popular dietary supplements and how they may contribute to your overall nutrition and health.

Amino Acids

The human body needs and uses 22 amino acids as its building blocks for everything from making cells and maintaining tissue to producing hormones, enzymes, and neurotransmitters.

There are two types of amino acids: essential and non-essential. The essential amino acids are obtained from eating proteins in food (protein itself is comprised of amino acids), and the body can manufacture the non-essential amino acids.

A diet lacking in even one of these amino acids can be detrimental to one's health. Stress, infection, trauma, age and some medications may also put one's amino acids out of balance.

Here are some amino acids that seem therapeutically promising.

  • Arginine may stimulate the immune system, help heal wounds, slow cancer growth, and improve heart conditions.
  • Carnitine may improve heart function, help lower cholesterol and help with symptoms of Alzheimer's.
  • Creatine may be effective for helping body-builders bulk up their muscles.
  • Cysteine, best absorbed in the form of N-acetyl-L-cysteine, may help the liver flush toxins and pollutants from the body.
  • Tryptophan helps make serotonin and melatonin, which affect mood and sleep. Try eating tryptophan-rich foods like turkey, milk or avocados next time you have insomnia. 5-HTP is a form of tryptophan that may also help in this department.

Note, people with kidney problems, diabetes or PKU need to be cautious about adding certain proteins and amino acids to their diets. As always, consult your physician, nutritionist or holistic practitioner before taking any supplements.


Antioxidants are like the superheroes of the immune system, capturing evil free radicals and other toxic bad guys then kicking them out of the body before they can wreak havoc.

The most potent antioxidant of all is a substance called glutathione (GSH). The body manufactures this enzyme, but supplies can be bolstered by the foods, vitamins and minerals you consume. Vitamins C, E, beta-carotene (which the body converts to vitamin A), selenium and lycopene are used to make this important antioxidant and function as antioxidants themselves. Certain herbs such as ginkgo biloba, green tea, and grape seed extract are thought to have antioxidant properties as well.

More and more research is being conducted into the promising role of antioxidants in maintaining optimum health and combating disease.

Bee Products

Royal jelly, propolis, and bee pollen are three popular dietary supplements derived from bees to which a wide variety of health benefits have been attributed. Not all of them are substantiated by science, but some insist they can strengthen the immune system, heal wounds, fight infection, alleviate symptoms of stress, make one feel energized and ease allergy symptoms, especially hay fever.

Royal jelly, propolis, and bee pollen are available in all sorts of forms, including liquids, powders, creams, lozenges, capsules, soft gels, and tablets.

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A whole grain is comprised of three layers. In the center lies the starchy white, nutritionally-void endosperm. This is surrounded by the germ; which is rich in B vitamins, vitamin E and protein. The outer shell is the bran, containing many vitamins, minerals, and proteins. This also contains most of the dietary fiber that helps move toxins and other substances through and out of your digestive tract.

If you want to ensure you are consuming enough dietary fiber, consider adding bran sources to your diet. Try these options:

  • Oat bran, the outer layer of the oat grain, is a good source of soluble fiber. It can help absorb cholesterol; which may help ward off heart disease and control diabetes.
  • Wheat bran, the outer layer of the wheat grain, is a good source of insoluble fiber. It's a good stool binder and softener; which can help relieve constipation and other digestive disorders.
  • Rice bran oil, extracted from the outer layer of the rice grain, is rich in vitamins, antioxidants and other nutrients that can help lower cholesterol, enhance immunity and fight damaging free radicals. It's a light, versatile cooking oil that's free of trans fats.

Calcium Carbonate

When it comes to health and medicine, calcium carbonate is used as a calcium supplement, antacid or in treating patients with hyperphosphatemia. However, taking too many calcium supplements can cause calcium carbonate chest pain, a symptom of several issues such as milk-alkali syndrome.

Before you start taking a calcium supplement or start using calcium carbonate in cooking, check the amount of calcium in food items you're already eating. Today, many foods already contain calcium, so it is very easy to take too much. As with many things, a little calcium is healthy, and too much can be harmful.

There is one use of a calcium carbonate that doesn't involve taking a pill or putting it in food. Magnesium-calcium hydrogen carbonate thermal water is often found in spas or other luxury treatments. It helps treat skin illnesses and vein conditions, and it's even been used in therapy for people who have muscular damage.

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10, sometimes called ubiquinone or CoQ10, is necessary for cells to release energy – and having energy is important for all bodily functions. It has been the subject of many studies in recent years and has been found to be beneficial for a number of conditions.

Coenzyme Q10 has been shown to be effective in treating people with heart failure, helping this muscle have more energy to pump. It has also been shown to lower blood pressure, a pleasant by-product of the heart beating more efficiently.

CoQ10 may also lower your cholesterol and keep your arteries flowing smoothly. Other studies have shown promise in improving the immune system, diabetes, gingivitis, athletic endurance and some think it may help combat cancer.

Coenzyme Q10 is found in foods like tuna, mackerel, sardines, beef, canola oil, wheat germ, and tofu, and needs vitamin C, E, the Bs and selenium to be manufactured by the liver. Supplements are considered safe to take. It's a fat-soluble compound best taken in an oil base form, twice a day and with food.