Everyday dietary supplements can be beneficial to your health. Dietary supplements include vitamins, herbs, minerals, enzymes and amino acids. These supplements are often sold in tablet, capsule, powder, and liquid form. However, despite the claims some manufacturers make, according to data reported by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there may be risks to taking supplements, combining them, taking too many, or mixing supplements with prescription medications.
Healthline reports that more than half of all Americans take a multivitamin supplement. But that’s not all. American’s spend billions, upward of $20 billion, in fact, on supplements. Before you make a decision about which (if any) to buy, here’s what you need to know.
Why Americans Take Supplements
Many people turn to supplements like vitamins to compensate for a poor diet. Yet, supplements can’t make up for a diet lacking in nutritious fruits and vegetables. According to nurition experts and doctors from the Office of Dietary Supplements in the National Institute of Health, Americans who eat an average diet have a miniscule risk of developing a vitamin deficiency.
However, there are some exceptions when it comes to taking supplements. People who follow a vegan diet and people over 50 may need to take vitamin B12, an essential nutrient found in animal products that is lacking in vegan diets and sometimes difficult for older people to digest. Folic acid benefits women who are attempting to get pregnant, as it guards against neural tube birth defects.
There are a variety of benefits to taking supplements, but you should talk to your doctor before you start.
The supplements industry is not heavily monitored, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not authorized to review dietary supplements for effectiveness and safety before they’re marketed to the public. This means you must approach with caution. The manufacturers and distributors are responsible for making their supplements safe before they hit the shelves at the store. But that doesn’t always happen.
For example, an herbal ingredient found in a weight-loss supplement was linked to cases of liver failure. Pieter Cohen, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, wrote in the Harvard Public Health Review that manufacturers attempt to compete with trusted businesses by using illegal and undeclared ingredients in their products. These include banned drugs, prescription medications, and novel chemical compounds. There’s an influx of unsafe products out there, so use caution when making your next purchase.
If you’re searching for supplements online, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends using non-commercial sites, including the NIH, FDA and USDA, instead of conducting a blind search. Do a little research by reading reviews and the FAQ pages of the supplement sites. Also, pay close attention to the marketing and miraclle working claims. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
When you’re ready to make an informed decision, choose a trusted company that has a longstanding reputation, like Amway. Again, it’s advised to talk about supplement use with your doctor to make a smart, informed choice about supplements.