Open hand with vitamin pills and capsules in palm.

Have you ever walked into the supplement aisle of your local supermarket and been baffled by the sheer variety? With all those options to choose from, it can difficult to know where to turn. Here are a few useful guidelines to help you figure out which vitamins you need and which ones you might be able to skip.

1. Listen to your body.

How are you feeling today? The human body is an amazing machine that has many ways of communicating deficiencies, but we are often so focused on what's around us that we forget to pay attention to those signals. For example, if you constantly feel tired despite getting eight hours of sleep every night? You may benefit from a vitamin B-12 supplement. Symptoms of B-12 deficiency can include fatigue, constipation, and weakness, among others. If you suffer from frequent bouts of indigestion, heartburn, or intestinal trouble, on the other hand, you may need to look into something like carrageenan, which is a natural seaweed extract and is often used to promote a healthy digestive tract.

2. Check your diet.

Many of us are missing out on calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, and E in our day to day diets. These nutrients affect all of our body's systems, from our bones all the way out to our skin. In theory, of course, the best way to absorb nutrients is through a balanced diet. But in practice, that does not always prove possible. For example, a person who is lactose intolerant might have a hard time getting enough calcium, since dairy products tend to be one of our most important sources of that particular nutrient. It can also be difficult to eat a sufficiently balanced, diverse diet if you are working a high-pressure job that has you constantly running short on time or if you spend a lot of time traveling for business. It's all too easy to forget about your health in those situations, but a high-quality multivitamin is something that's easy to tuck into a desk drawer at work or keep in an overnight bag; just be sure to check the label and make sure it contains sufficient quantities of these seven nutrients.

3. When in doubt, go to the doctor.

If you are still uncertain about which supplements might work best for you, don't try to puzzle it out on your own. Doctors have a lot of tools at their disposal, such as blood or urine tests, that can help you find out which nutrients you're low on—it won't be the same for you as it is for others. Once you have those facts, you will be better equipped to choose the supplements that are right for you. There are some medical conditions, such as anemia, that require a specific set of dietary supplements. There are also a few supplements, such as vitamin D-3, have some potential to cause problems if you take them when you do not need them. Some supplements can also have negative interactions with certain medications, so make sure your doctor knows about all the supplements you take.

Remember, the more you know, the better equipped you are to make the right decisions about your health. Once you know what to look for, the world of dietary supplements is not nearly as overwhelming. As long as you are paying attention to your body's needs and exercising a little bit of practical common sense, you should be able to conquer the supplement aisle, choosing the nutrients that will best support your health with confidence and ease.

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About The Author

Mikkie Mills's picture

Mikkie Mills is a freelance writer who's passionate about health, fitness, organic cooking and eating, and yoga. When not writing she loves traveling, hiking, and cooking. Find more from Mikkie on Google+.

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