Did you know that over half of Americans take a dietary supplement every day? You may be one of those people. Perhaps they were suggested by your doctor, or maybe you've been taking them since you were young.
Before you reach for the supplements, you need to ask yourself if it is necessary to take them, what effect they are having, and whether they are safe with other medications you may be taking.
Should I take vitamins?
Most people take vitamins and minerals as well as other supplements to ensure they get the full recommended daily amount of nutrients they need. But before you begin taking any new vitamins, it is important to know that you can get all of the needed elements through a balanced diet.
“It’s possible to get all of the nutrients you need by eating a variety of healthy foods, so you don’t have to take one,” says Carol Haggans, a registered dietitian and consultant to National Institute of Health. “But supplements can be useful for filling in gaps in your diet.”
Some supplements can enhance your health in different ways, evidence suggests. Examples include calcium, which supports bone health, and vitamin D which supports the absorption of calcium. Vitamin B12, which comes mostly from meat and dairy products, may be important if you maintain certain diets like a vegan (no animal product) diet.
Supplements are very important to pregnant women. Iron and vitamin D are recommended to be taken when pregnant and breastfeeding. Folic acid is recommended for all women of child-bearing age (more on that here).
Supplements that are not vitamin and mineral based like glucosamine and flaxseed oil need more study to determine their effectiveness.
Can taking supplements be a health risk?
Caution should be used with some supplements due to the effects they may have on your body or on medications you may be taking.
Supplements such as St. John's wort can cause drugs like anti-depressants and birth control pills to break down more quickly and render them less effective. Vitamin K has the ability to make blood thinners less effective.
Supplements like Gingko can affect your body by increasing blood thinning.
It can also be dangerous to take too much of a certain vitamin. Check the label for the daily value percentage and remember that the daily value of a supplement is considered to be the upper limit.
It is important to fully discuss with your doctor supplements that you may be taking or are thinking about taking. Your doctor can help guide you through the process and discover what supplements you need or don't need.
Sunshine Home Care is an Altus, OK home health agency that serves most of Western Oklahoma. For more information, contact us or call us at 1-877-477-2014.