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The Truth About Supplements: 5 Things You Should Know

Why Take a Supplement?

Suppose you’re one of the millions of Americans who take vitamins or supplements on a daily basis. In that case, whether they’re spilling out of your medicine cabinet or covering your bathroom countertop, you’re not alone.

You might be attempting to treat a vitamin deficiency, reduce your chance of contracting specific diseases or feel more proactive about your health after taking a supplement that claims to do so.

Americans have taken nutritional supplements for decades, from zinc to vitamin A. People went to neighborhood drug stores to stock up on these purportedly magical tablets to boost their general health and wellbeing when supplements first became available in the 1940s, and they never stopped.

Analyzing Dietary Supplement Use Data

  • A third or more of Americans use supplements.
  • 40% of all vitamin sales are made up of multivitamins or mineral supplements.
  • The most popular dietary supplement includes fish oil, omega 3 fatty acids, DHA, or EPA.
  • 30% of persons 65 and older who take supplements of any kind take four or more.

Everywhere you look, you can find suggestions for dietary supplements: on television advertising, from social media influencers, and from your neighbors, acquaintances, and relatives. It might be challenging to choose which supplement, if any, is best for you amidst the noise. Although many supplements are undoubtedly good for your health, there is a wide range of data, so it’s crucial to know which supplements are safe and which ones could be detrimental.

The Truth About Supplements: 5 Things You Should Know

5 Facts About Dietary Supplements You Should Know

1) There are various types of supplements

According to Jeffrey Millstein, MD, a physician at Penn Internal Medicine Woodbury Heights, “Whether in pill, powder, or liquid form, the purpose of dietary supplements is often the same: to supplement your diet to receive enough nutrients and boost health.”

At least one nutritional component, such as vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, amino acids, or enzymes, is present in them. Some of the most well-liked supplements are available as independent supplements as well as multivitamins, which can save you from having to take a tonne of pills every day.

What is the lowest common factor? They bear the designation of dietary supplements. A few popular dietary supplements are:

  • Calcium
  • Fish oil
  • Echinacea
  • Ginseng
  • Garlic
  • Vitamin D
  • St. John’s wort
  • Green tea

2. Do dietary supplements merit use?

Supplements are so well-liked for a reason: occasionally, they work. “There is evidence that some supplements can help your general well-being in addition to a good diet with little to no danger,” adds Dr. Millstein.

The following typical supplements may be advantageous to your health:

  1. Vitamin B12, can help keep nerve and blood cells healthy, make DNA and prevent anemia
  2. Folic acid can reduce birth defects when taken by pregnant women
  3. Vitamin D, which can strengthen bones
  4. Calcium, which can promote bone health
  5. Vitamins C and E can prevent cell damage
  6. Fish oil can support heart health
  7. Vitamin A can slow down vision loss from age-related macular degeneration
  8. Zinc, can promote skin health and slow down vision loss from age-related macular degeneration
  9. Melatonin, which can help counteract jet lag

The National Institutes of Health has spent more than $2.4 billion investigating vitamins and minerals since 1999, yet despite the extensive research on supplements, the scientific data isn’t conclusive. Remember: The majority of research indicates that taking multivitamins won’t increase your lifespan, slow down cognitive decline, or reduce your risk of developing diseases like diabetes, heart disease, or cancer. According to Dr. Millstein, it is actually unlawful for businesses to assert that supplements will be used to treat, identify, prevent, or cure illnesses. Additionally, studies may be deceptive because the things you purchase offline or online may differ from those utilized in the study.

The Truth About Supplements: 5 Things You Should Know

3. Not always are supplements secure

Multivitamins often don’t present any health dangers. However, you should use caution while putting anything into your body.

“Supplements may mix with other prescriptions you’re taking or pose hazards if you have specific medical conditions, like liver disease, or are planning a surgery,” says Dr. Millstein. Additionally, certain supplements haven’t been studied in youngsters, nursing mothers, or pregnant women, so you might need to exercise extra caution.

Some supplements that may pose risks include:

  1. Vitamin K, can reduce the effectiveness of blood thinners
  2. Gingko, which can increase blood thinning
  3. St. John’s wort, which can make some drugs, such as antidepressants and birth control, less effective
  4. Herbal supplements comfrey and kava, can damage your liver
  5. Beta-carotene and vitamin A, can increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers

4. Before ingesting any supplements, consult your healthcare professional

The most crucial thing to keep in mind is to choose supplements wisely, advises Dr. Millstein. Since a supplement’s efficacy and safety may vary depending on your particular circumstances and health, your first step should be to examine your alternatives with your doctor. Additionally, bear in mind these straightforward guidelines while you pick a supplement:

  • Take supplements as recommended on the label and by your healthcare provider.
  • The ingredients, medicine interactions, and percent daily value (% DV) should all be read on the label.
  • Extreme statements like “totally safe” or “work better than (insert prescription medicine)” should be avoided.
  • Keep in mind that “natural” doesn’t always equate to “safe.”
  • Keep supplements well stored and out of the reach of youngsters.

5. A healthy diet has the best nutrient power

Whatever your reason for taking supplements, you should know that they cannot take the place of a balanced diet rich in nutrients. “Supplements are designed to be supplemental,” says Dr. Millstein. “That means they increase benefits already supplied by eating a well-rounded diet.” Real food should never be substituted with supplements. 

Never undervalue the benefits of a salad packed with nutrients over a manufactured medication. Minerals and vitamins are crucial for the proper growth and operation of your body. While most people obtain the appropriate amount of nutrients by eating healthfully, certain people require a small nutrient boost. Supplements can help with that by giving your body the assistance it needs to remain healthy.

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