The health benefits of supplements are evident in that there are many adults, as well as children, in the United States taking one or more a day. Many supplements offer such need nutrients as minerals, herbs, and other such ingredients. Available in such forms as tablets, capsules, powders, and energy bars, some are now being offered up in the form of gummies.
Some of the more popular supplements more commonly seen on store shelves include vitamins D and B12, calcium, and iron. There are also well-known herbs, such as garlic, echinacea, and let’s not forget probiotics and the tried and true fish oil.
Look At The Label
Each bottle of supplements is required to have a label attached that details information about the supplements. Such details include the active ingredients contained within the supplement, the standard dose, as well as if there are any filler, bingers or flavorings present. Although the label does offer up a serving size, it is best to reach out to your healthcare provider on the dose that is appropriate for you.
Routinely taking supplements can help those individuals that do not eat as wide of a variety of nutritious foods. However, it is essential that you realize that supplements can not take the place of the nutritional value to actual food offers in maintaining a healthy overall diet.
There are some supplements that are able to aid in overall health management, as well as to help to manage some health related conditions. Those examples would include:
- For strong bones and to aid in the reduction of bone loss—Calcium and vitamin D.
- To help in the decrease of various birth defects—Folic acid.
- For those people who experience heart disease—Omega-3 fatty acids
- For the slowing down of possible vision loss, in those with age-related macular degeneration—AREDS, which are a combination of both vitamins C and E, copper, zinc, zeaxanthin, and lutein.
Although there are many more supplements on the market, they are still being determined as to what health value they offer.
Know The Risks
The active ingredients in many supplements can often produce strong effects when taken. Always be alert to the possibility of suffering an adverse reaction, as everyone reacts differently to new products.
The chance of experiencing an adverse reaction to supplements is usually when you consume them in too high of a dose. There are some known supplements that can react to prescribed medications.
- Vitamin K is known to interfere with Warfarin, a blood thinner used to prevent possible clotting.
- St John’s Wort has been seen to interact with medicines and reduce the effectiveness of the dosage.
- Antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, and have been proven to reduce the overall effectiveness of most cancer chemotherapies.
It is also suggested that, when using dietary supplements, caution is used—especially for those pregnant or nursing. It is also advised to only give supplements to a child under the supervision of a physician. It is vital to remember that many of the supplements on the market have not been tested by the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) and may not be safe for pregnant women, nursing females, and small children.
Although supplements are not regulated as heavily as prescription medicines, the FDA does have good manufacturing practices (GMPs) that supplement companies are required to follow. These practices include purity, strength, identity, and composition. These practices prevent the supplement companies from adding any wrong ingredients, or on the other hand, too much of the proper ingredient. They also aid in the prevention of contamination or the improper labeling and handling of the product.
There are those independent organizations that perform testing for quality, and the product passes the test, which will allow them to display a seal that shows quality assurance. This seal proves that the supplement was shown to be appropriately manufactured, contains the actual ingredients that are included on the label, and it has shown not to contain any type of harmful contaminant. However, it is not to be assumed that these very same seals make any type of guarantee of the supplement being effective or safe.
A Few Take-Aways
It is crucial that you keep in mind a few tips when it comes to the use of supplements:
- Before using any supplement to treat a health condition, it is crucial that you first consult your healthcare provider.
- Before taking any supplements in place of, or in conjunction with, any type of prescribed medicine, obtain your healthcare provider’s approval first.
- Plan ahead of time to discuss any supplements you are taking before any time of scheduled surgical procedure.
- The safety of any supplement depends on several factors, such as the chemical makeup, how it works within the body, how the supplement is manufactured, and the dosage you consume.
- Just because the supplement terms itself as “nature” does not automatically mean it is safe. There are those all-natural botanicals, such as comfrey and kava, that have been proven to cause harm to the liver.
- Before making the decision to begin a regime of supplements, discuss these questions with your healthcare provider:
- How will the use of this supplement benefit me?
- Are there any known safety risks?
- What is the proper dosage that I need to take?
- How long should I plan on taking it?
Medicines, such as those prescribed by a physician, are regulated by the FDA before they are permitted to be marketed to patients. Supplements, on the other hand, are not required to have this same approval. The only requirement is that supplement manufacturers are responsible for being able to produce evidence that their products are safe for use. There are admittedly many advantages and health benefits of supplements. That is why it is vital that you obtain them from a reputable and reliable source when considering the possibility of taking supplements.