There’s a reason many supermarkets and drug stores devote an entire aisle to nutritional supplements. For those of us on a quest for better health, it's hard to resist the promise that it can be delivered in the form of neatly packaged pills.
One in three American adults takes at least one dietary supplement each day, reports the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health. Overall, Americans spend more than $11 billion annually on vitamins and minerals, according to the most recent government figures.
"There’s so much interest in nutrition today," says dietitian Joan Salge Blake, a professor at Boston University and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Baby boomers, especially, are interested in living longer and better than the generation before. They are savvy about seeking out information; they follow health news and use the Internet to learn more. I think many are willing to do whatever it takes to stay healthy."
Enter supplements. Most healthy adults can benefit from a multivitamin and one or more single-ingredient supplements, says dietitian Elizabeth Somer, author of Eat Your Way to Sexy (Harlequin, 2011). The problem, though, is that too many of us are simply guessing about our needs, based on what we see in headlines or hear from friends. Here, Salge Blake and Somer clear up some widespread myths about what supplements can do for you and share tips for making sense of product labels and claim
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