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Dietary supplements – are they good for you?

By By Chris Cole
Published On: Jul 30 2013 11:12:37 PM CDT

With the recent debate on whether fish oil pills are good for preventing heart disease or if they just cause prostate cancer, we had to ask - are supplements a good thing?

POCATELLO, Idaho -

It seems like there's always new information coming out about heart health.

Fish oil, for example. has long been used to help prevent heart disease.

Most recently, studies are showing fish pills may not only not decrease heart disease risk, they may actually increase your risk of prostate cancer.

So the question is – how do you know what's safe and right for you?

Is there no simple answer? Unfortunately, no, because each person has to find the right supplements for themselves.

But you also have to make sure you are reading labels and seeing past the marketing of the products. The most important step is getting informed.

Idaho State University Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice Chris Owens says taking control of your health is always good, but it's how you do it that makes the difference.

"They're becoming more informed consumers, including more informed health consumers. That's great,” Owens said after a presentation on Tuesday at Portneuf Medical Center. “There are so many sources of information are out there, and you have to know which sources are the reputable sources – which sources are based on good science."

Dosage is also important when it comes to your supplements. Like with fish pills, each

"How many capsules should you be taking? You have to do a little of the math on your own, but you can come up with, 'Okay, this is the dosage I would need.' But even better than that, talk to your doctor about how much fish oil should you be taking."

And what about the natural remedies that many people feel are better than the synthesized versions?

"There are plenty of natural products our there that we know are harmful, and there are plenty of synthetic drugs that have been studied and shown to actually be very beneficial in treating a number of different medical conditions."

So what's the best way to get your needed supplements?

You need to get them from your food. Instead of taking the fish oil pills, try to simply eat more fish.

But then comes the financial part – it's expensive to eat the no-preservative food.

So it just comes down to a balancing act, and doing your best to increase the good stuff – fruits, vegetables and proteins – and trying to avoid the processed foods.

It's also important to know which sources are the most reliable when it comes to this health information.

Owens recommended the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which is part of the National Institutes of Health. For its website and a list of resources available to you, follow this link: http://nccam.nih.gov

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