Health Supplements for Depression
While several new prescription anti-depressant medications have hit the market in recent years, vitamin, mineral and herbal therapies may play a role as well. Below are some minerals and supplements you can try to help alleviate the symptoms of depression:
- Calcium and magnesium seem to sooth the nerves and can help with symptoms like insomnia.
- St. Johns Wort has been hailed as a natural remedy for mild to moderate depression and anxiety. It seems to increase the brain's the production of serotonin which can lead to mood enhancement.
- Some people, especially seniors, have had success using ginkgo biloba to manage their depression.
- 5-HTP, a form of the amino acid tryptophan, may also be beneficial for this condition. Eating foods rich in tryptophan such as turkey, milk, and salmon may help to alleviate the sleeplessness that often accompanies depression.
- Melatonin may have the same anti-insomnia effect, plus seems to counteract symptoms of SAD (seasonal affective disorder).
- Kava, a member of the pepper family, which targets the limbic system and may be beneficial in treating anxiety, stress, and restlessness.
Some of these natural remedies don't mix well with prescription drugs, so please consult a health professional before trying any of these approaches.
Depression is a common emotional and physical complaint ranging from mild melancholy to total despair and even suicidal thoughts. It can be triggered by things like emotional stress, a life change, a traumatic event, seasonal shortages of sunlight, a reaction to medication, alcohol, allergies and nutritional deficiencies.
Health Supplements for Specific Conditions
Certain ailments and health conditions may benefit from vitamins, minerals, herbs and other dietary supplements. Natural therapies may not cure or prevent disease altogether, but they can impact the severity of symptoms and the duration of the illness. Always seek medical advice for serious health issues, but consider the following natural approaches for the following conditions.
Health Supplements for Children
Infants, children, and teenagers are especially in need good nutrition to grow and develop into hearty adults. This is the time to establish healthy, wholesome eating habits in them. Children require more of certain vitamins and minerals than adults do.
- Children need more of the B vitamins to help them extract energy out of food and may require a nutritious snack or two between regular meals to give them the proper fuel to grow, learn and play. For strong bones and teeth, they need plenty of calcium.
- Girls have a growth spurt around the age of ten and boys around twelve, so this is the time to be especially conscious of their calcium intake. They also require plenty of vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium and prevents rickets. Children who don't spend much time in the sun may need vitamin D supplements. Vitamin K is also necessary for strong bone development. Young, growing children also need plenty of vitamin A and zinc.
- Plenty of antioxidant-rich vitamin C is also recommended to fight infections and help absorb iron, a lack of which can lead to fatigue and poor concentration.
Talk to your doctor about supplements if you suspect diet alone will not provide the proper vitamins and minerals for your child. Some infants require iron and fluoride supplements. Kids over two may benefit from a liquid multivitamin squirted in their juice or milk.
There are a variety of chewable multivitamin brands on the market, in all sorts of shapes and flavors to appeal to the discerning kiddie pallet. Try to stay away from brands that are full of artificial colorings, flavorings, and preservatives. Teenagers might be ready for a standard multivitamin.
Health Supplements for Weight Management
While making the effort to shed excess pounds is commendable, it must be undertaken in a safe, moderate manner. A drastic cutback in calories can cause blood sugar levels to rise and fall erratically which can sabotage not only your weight-loss goals but your health in general.
- If you do diet, make sure you eat a variety of energy-rich foods that contain all the recommended vitamins and minerals – it is probably advisable to take a multivitamin to ensure you are getting enough.
- The B vitamins, in particular, are important for a healthy metabolism, converting glucose into energy.
- Coenzyme Q10 may also give you an energy boost. Ensure you get enough potassium to keep your electrolytes in balance.
While there is no shortage of weight-loss formulas on the market, there isn't a magic pill that can help you shed pounds if you don't include diet and exercise in your regimen. Some studies have found that taking chromium can help the body use glucose and fat more efficiently and prevent blood sugar swings.
Health Supplements for Energy
Lack of energy is a common complaint these days. The typical modern lifestyle is full of stress, worry, overwork, sleeplessness, poor diet, and lack of exercise and illness, all of which can lead to feelings of fatigue.
Beyond ensuring you get proper hydration, adequate rest and a balanced approach to life, and the required daily amounts of vitamins and minerals through proper diet, there are some supplements you can consider to optimize your vim and vigor:
- B vitamins which support the nervous and immune system and helps convert food into energy. In particular, biotin helps the body metabolize glucose and vitamin B12 helps form red blood cells that transport oxygen throughout the system. If a B12 deficiency is at the root of your energy slump, an injection may be beneficial.
- A folic acid deficiency often leads to lethargy, so ensure that you're getting an adequate intake.
- Vitamin C is also recommended as a pick-me-up because it promotes immune function, helps repair tissues and assists the adrenal gland; which controls the production of stress hormones.
- Iron is an important mineral to prevent fatigue as it helps oxygenate the blood.
- Magnesium is another essential mineral involved in the conversion of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates into energy.
- Coenzyme Q10 helps cells release energy, so it's often a key ingredient in an energy-boosting regimen. Amino acids and essential fatty acids, like flaxseed oil, can also be effective in combating weariness.
- Herbal energy tonics often include licorice; which helps the body produce adrenalin. While ginger stimulates the adrenal glands and cayenne helps improve circulation. Asian ginseng (panax) has been used for centuries throughout Asia to increase vitality. Siberian ginseng is used to help fight fatigue. Ginko biloba is touted as an aid for increasing mental clarity and alertness.
Health Supplements for Skin Care
Having healthier skin is important for everyone, but requires extra care as we age.
Despite being the largest organ of the body and completely renewing itself every few months, the skin begins to thin and lose its elasticity as we advance into our senior years. As the first line of defense against UV radiation, infection and bodily impacts, the skin is vital to your overall health.
For some extra TLC, consider using skin care products regularly. There are plenty of choices on the market ranging from natural and organic skin care to more common anti-aging skin care products. The skin of the face is thinnest, so facial skin care is a must to combat wrinkles and dryness.
If you're looking for some herbal skin care products, here are a few to consider:
- Sea buckthorn oil extract. Revitalizes and assists in renewing skin and mucous wounds.
- Revia or Revia Rosa. An anti-aging facial treatment for younger and older skin.
- Herbal aromatherapy bath soaks such as Elegia herbal oil which contains lavender, chamomile, jasmine, bergamot, peppermint and orange essential oils along with natural vitamin E oil and sweet almond oil.
Health Supplements for Men
There is no shortage of vitamin formulas geared toward men and their particular health issues. Be wary of those claiming to prevent hair loss or enhance the libido. However, some of the following nutrients may be beneficial:
- Bee pollen and royal jelly may help reduce symptoms of stress, give one a boost of energy and strengthen the immune system. Some swear that ginseng improves stamina and ginkgo biloba increases mental endurance.
- Vitamin C and the B vitamins are depleted when one is stressed – a metabolic reaction to the fight-or-flight response – so it is wise to ensure you top up on these nutrients. A deficiency of biotin, in particular, may lead to decreased muscle tone, hair loss, and flaking skin.
- Antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E plus zinc may improve one's sperm count.
- The herb saw palmetto has had some success in relieving the inflammation of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and influencing hormone levels that affect this condition.
Health Supplements for Women
The biological rhythms of ovulation, menstruation, contraception, conception, childbirth, lactation and menopause can send a woman's system off balance. It's no wonder that women experience a range of health issues all their own.
While one should always consult a health practitioner, the following natural remedies may be beneficial for certain conditions:
- Acidophilus, abundant in live culture yogurt, can be used to prevent and treat vaginal yeast infections.
- Cranberry can help prevent or reduce the course of a urinary tract infection.
- Symptoms of PMS (premenstrual syndrome) may be alleviated with antioxidant-rich vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium. Herbal remedies for this condition include chasteberry, dandelion root, dong quai, ginseng, and nettle leaf. For menstrual cramps, try calcium, black cohosh, evening primrose oil, feverfew or raspberry leaf tea.
- Women with heavy periods may benefit from extra iron during menstruation. The birth control pill depletes the body of many vitamins and minerals and so women on the pill should be extra-conscientious of their diet and supplement intake.
- Menopause often brings with it an array of unpleasant symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, night sweats, and mood swings. Consuming plenty of vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, flavonoids, and soy isoflavones can strengthen capillary walls and prevent the dilation that causes hot flashes. Herbs like St Johns wort, evening primrose oil, lemon balm, motherwort, lavender, chamomile, and valerian can also have a calming mood-enhancing effect.
- Women, especially those over 50, should consider taking extra calcium and its absorption-helper vitamin D to counteract their propensity towards osteoporosis. Magnesium, zinc, vitamin K and the B vitamins are also important bone builders.
- The herb hawthorn is said to improve coronary blood flow, tone the heart muscle and reduce angina. See cardiovascular health or more information on natural approaches to heart disease.