Since we don’t always get all the nutrients we need on our own (i.e., from food), supplements can help us fill in the gaps. But there seem to be so many! What’s the real difference between vitamins, minerals, herbals, and supplements, and how can you tell what’s best for your body?
What are supplements, vitamins, herbals, and minerals?
You may hear the words herbals and supplements used interchangeably, but they shouldn’t be.
Think about it this way: All herbals are supplements, but not all supplements are herbals. All vitamins are supplements, but not all supplements are vitamins. All minerals are supplements, but not all supplements are minerals.
The word “supplements” is an umbrella term that includes several smaller categories of micronutrients. Below are the categories and examples of each:
- Vitamins (ex: vitamin B6, vitamin D3)
- Minerals (ex: calcium, magnesium)
- Herbals or botanicals (ex: echinacea, milk thistle)
- Amino acids (ex: branched chain amino acids or BCAAs, L-tyrosine)
- Enzymes (ex: CoQ10, digestive enzymes)
- Organ tissues or glandular supplements (ex: adrenal health supplements, dessicated liver supplements)
- Extracts (ex: green tea, ashwaghanda)
Vitamins and minerals help your body work like it’s supposed to. Not having enough of certain vitamins and minerals can either cause health problems or be the result of a health problem.
Think about calcium and vitamin D, for example. If your body doesn’t have enough calcium, your bones may become weak and you may be more likely to develop osteoporosis. Lack of Vitamin D can cause rickets, a disease where bones aren’t strong enough and become fragile and deformed.
Many people take herbal supplements because they believe they can help boost their health naturally. For example, you may have a family member that takes echinacea to fight off a cold or garlic to promote good blood flow and heart health.
Are supplements safe?
Supplements are not treated exactly the same as over-the-counter or prescription medications. When choosing supplements, it’s important to buy from reputable companies and trustworthy brands in order to be sure the supplements you buy are safe, not contaminated, and contain the ingredients they claim to have.
Where can I buy reliable supplements online?
The Compounding Center now has an online vitamin store that makes it convenient and quick for you to buy your preferred supplements. Plus, you get to choose from reliable, high-quality brands like Nordic Naturals, Metagenics, and more.
Visit The Compounding Center’s online vitamin store to find your favorite supplements.