(BPT) - Remember when you were a child and the world was big-- full of adventure and possibility? You ate your favorite cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner and at the end of every day, your mom would make you take those little multi-flavored vitamins usually shaped like a popular cartoon character. You didn't necessarily understand why you had to take these, but you always did what your mom told you-- because mother knows best.
Now you're older, a little wiser, and you still take your vitamins every day-- at least you should. But how do you know if the vitamins you're buying are right for you? You know you're different. You know your nutritional needs aren't the same as your friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
You are keenly aware of how much sleep you need to feel vital, which snacks get you through the slowly ticking minutes of the afternoon, and how much exercise is required to stay on target. But do you understand the crucial role vitamins play in your individual health?
Dr. Brian Dixon does.
As executive director of scientific and clinical affairs at USANA Health Sciences, Dr. Dixon extensively studies the body's evolving need for vitamins and understands the important functions they play in an individual's health. His primary focus is on the aging process, antioxidants and detoxification.
"Dr. Linus Pauling, the only person to win two unshared Nobel prizes, said it best, and even coined a term regarding this issue: orthomolecular medicine," Dr. Dixon says. "That means getting the right molecule or nutrient, at the right time, in the proper or correct dose."
Since you're not like anyone else, why would you require the exact same nutrition as everyone else? You don't. And that's where a tool like the USANA's True Health Assessment comes in. The program assessment takes you through a series of questions and then determines the best nutritional supplements and vitamins to support your specific health needs. It's the perfect instrument to help you discover your nutritional needs as well as provide you with a personalized lifestyle plan that evolves as you do.
Your lifestyle has an enormous impact on your nutritional needs, but generally speaking, your body requires different nutrients during the distinctive phases of your life.
Your 20s and 30s-- a roaring good time
During these decades, you may be relatively healthy, but you're busy building a career, starting a family and enjoying a rigorous social life. During this time period, you could benefit from vitamin B12 for energy, vitamin C to boost the immune system, and melatonin to get restorative sleep — all are important when burning the candle at both ends. Preventative measures, such as adding essential fatty acids like omega-3s into your diet, are a good idea as well.
Your 40s-- where fabulous meets red flags
Even though 40 seems to be the new 30, this is the time frame when both men and women usually develop an increased risk of heart disease. Go on the offense by getting annual checkups, setting dietary restrictions and getting plenty of exercise. Adding heart-smart nutrients like vitamin C, folic acid and vitamin E to your daily diet may help promote good cardiovascular health.
50 and above-- a golden era of health awareness
At 50 and above, your life experience starts to take physical form. This is the age when major health problems are most likely to arise. Women 50 and older are subject to a higher risk of osteoporosis and should consider calcium and vitamin D for stronger bones. Eyesight deterioration is common in both men and women, so vitamins A, C, and beta-carotene can be helpful in maintaining vision. And don't forget, after years of wear and tear, a supplement with glucosamine can aid in joint health.
The nutrients listed above are by no means a comprehensive guide, but instead an overview on how supplements are designed to fit age and activity. These recommendations are a starting point for most people because vitamins are also unique to each individual's lifestyle choices within those age categories. A tool like USANA's True Health Assessment can help pinpoint your singular nutritional needs at any age.
"At its very simplest, we all require the same essential micro- and macro-nutrients," Dr. Dixon says. "However, we are all unique and have different health goals and needs. The True Health Assessment makes it easy to achieve both."
You are one of a kind. Your nutritional needs are, too. No longer are you a child being coaxed to take your cartoon-shaped vitamins. Mom knew best, and now so do you. It's time to be accountable for your own wellness. Make the effort to discover your specific health needs and decide which nutritional products are right for you. The good news is you don't have to do it alone. The USANA True Health Assessment can help.