TheBUZZ Should you take dietary supplements?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Companies that sell dietary supplements make all sorts of claims about their products—that they boost energy, beat stress, improve performance, and can even turn a bad diet into a healthy one. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry that often promotes quick dietary fixes in pill form.
WHAT WE KNOW
More than half of all Americans take one or more dietary supplements. Most are self-prescribed, taken by personal choice and not because of a physician’s recommendation. For most Americans, however, dietary supplements are unnecessary. Experts agree that eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and beans is the best way to ensure you are getting all the nutrients your body needs.
Read More … Benefits of Eating Fruits & Veggies
Healthy foods can supply nutrients you need in a way that cannot be duplicated by any one pill or combination of supplements. Eating a diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables may reduce your risk of major diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers. Many of the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other substances such as fiber found in fruits and vegetables work together to provide these healthful benefits; benefits that have not been replicated with supplements.
Still, experts say that there may be a role for vitamins or mineral supplements in your diet. Your doctor may recommend a multivitamin and/or other mineral or vitamin supplements when certain health conditions require more of a specific nutrient. Calcium and vitamin D are often recommended, for example, because they are important for keeping bones strong. Similarly, pregnant women are advised to take folic acid to prevent certain birth defects in their babies.
Supplements should be viewed primarily as filling in small nutrient gaps, not as taking the place of real food or a healthy meal plan. If you do take dietary supplements, know what you are taking. Follow these FDA guidelines:
- Be sure to ask your health care provider or a registered dietitian about supplements before taking anything beyond basic multivitamins. These health care professionals can help you achieve the right balance between the foods and the nutrients you personally need.
- Although the benefits of some dietary supplements have been documented, the claims of others are unproven. Some dietary supplements have little to no research evidence to back their health claims. Get trustworthy information about the supplements you are taking, such as FDA’s Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know
- Understand the advantages and risks of any and all supplements you are taking. Keep in mind that dietary supplements are not FDA approved before being sold to the public, nor do they have to go through the rigorous testing that prescription drugs do.
- Tell your health care provider about any dietary supplements you are taking, as some supplements may interfere with over-the-counter or prescription medicine.
- Read and follow the label instructions carefully. Do not take a bigger dose of any dietary supplement than the label recommends.
- Before undergoing any type of surgery, including oral surgery, advise your doctor or dentist of any dietary supplements you are taking.
- Don’t automatically assume that dietary supplements labeled “natural” are safe to take. Some can interact with over-the-counter and prescription medications, often causing serious harm.