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Judy Kagel has degrees in Education and Data Processing. Her love of nature and a longstanding interest in natural remedies and alternative therapies led her to develop Vita-Master Nutritional Software. You can contact Judy at (407) 370-4666 or visit her website at www.vita-master.com.


The American Holistic Health Association has compiled a collection of self-help articles to support your efforts to enhance your own health and well-being.

This article is part of the
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ENHANCING YOUR LEVEL OF WELLNESS
and the sub-category
NUTRITION AND SUPPLEMENTATION

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Convenience foods are a part of our diet, so why not convenience supplements?

Many companies now provide supplement formulas intended for specific health needs. This saves you the trouble and expense of taking multiple pills for each health concern. In addition, certain combinations of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and herbs work better when taken together - they work synergistically . Because they work better together, you can take a lower dose.

There are many formulas to choose from for many health concerns - bones, blood pressure, weight control, energy, blood sugar, etc. All the research has been done - you just take them. Right? Wrong! Yes - take a synergistic formula. But know what you are taking. Review the ingredients. Consider your total supplement intake, diet, medications, allergies and your own specific health profile.

Do any of the ingredients have side effects that you should be aware of? Many herbs, for example devil's claw or feverfew, are not appropriate for pregnant women due to their possible aborting effects. Some herbs should be avoided by people on certain medications. You should not take kava if you are taking antidepressants or other drugs that affect the central nervous system. Stimulating herbs like ma-huang (ephedra) and/or guarana may be found in some energy or diet formulas. They can stress out the adrenal system. Ma-huang can increase heart rate, cause heart palpitations and raise blood pressure. You should never take ma-huang with caffeine or other stimulants.

Are you overdosing? Is any ingredient also in other supplements or formulas you are taking? If so, calculate your total intake of that ingredient. Ginkgo biloba is a popular herb for its ability to improve circulation by increasing blood flow. Improved blood flow boosts memory, aids depression, and may even help with impotence. With so many benefits, it may be found in a number of different formulas. The recommended dosage is 120-240mg daily. While adverse effects are not common, an overdose could cause diarrhea, nausea, irritability, or headaches.

Are you out of balance? Consider if any of the ingredients in the formula might affect the balance of other supplements you are taking. Too much of the amino acid arginine inhibits the utilization of lysine and lysine helps your body fight viruses. Peppermint blocks calcium absorption in the colon so taking too much could cause a calcium deficiency. Too much calcium or too much magnesium can cause a calcium/magnesium imbalance. Calcium and magnesium needs and ratios can vary widely based on age, sex, and diet. Generally, the ratio is 200mg calcium with 100mg magnesium. However, women may need a higher magnesium percentage, often equal to that of calcium or 200mg calcium for each 200mg of magnesium.

Synergistic formulas are great. They work better, you take fewer pills and much of the research has been done for you. Nevertheless, you should always check out the ingredients and be aware of any changes you notice in your body because everyone is different. I offer a personal experience as an example. Several years ago, I decided to switch from vitamin C to Ester-C. Ester-C uses calcium along with ascorbic acid. After switching to Ester-C, I noticed nervousness and muscle twitches. I hadn't adjusted the amount of calcium I was taking when changing to Ester-C, so my calcium-magnesium ratio was off. One less calcium pill each day solved the problem.