These are just a few of the promises found on the labels of vitamin and mineral supplements.Vitamins and other dietary supplements are not intended to be a food substitute. They cannot replace all of thenutrients and benefits of whole foods.
Dietary supplements are products designed to augment your daily intake of nutrients, usually the vitamins and minerals. Other substances also fall into this category: botanical products, amino acids, essential fatty acids and oils, enzymes, probiotics, and animal organ and glandular extracts are all sold as dietary supplements.When the food on the plate falls short and doesn’t include essential nutrients like calcium, potassium, vitamin D, andvitamin B12, some of the nutrients many Americans don’t get enough of, a supplement can help take up the nutritional slack.
The Benefits :Normally, you should be able to get all the nutrients you need from a balanced diet. However, taking supplements can provide additional nutrients when your diet is lacking or when certain health conditions cause you to develop an insufficiency or deficiency. Individual nutrients can also be sold as dietary supplements, but usually in larger amounts than what’s found in a typical multiple-vitamin. They may be used to treat a deficiency, such as iron deficiency, but sometimes they’re used therapeutically to treat specific health conditions or risk factors.
The Risks:Keep in mind that some ingredients found in dietary supplements are added to a growing number of foods, including breakfast cereals and beverages. As a result, you may be getting more of these ingredients than you think, and more might not be better. Taking more than you need is always more expensive and can also raise your risk of experiencing side effects. For example, getting too much vitamin A can cause headaches and liver damage, reduce bone strength, and cause birth defects. Excess iron causes nausea and vomiting and may damage the liver and other organs. Dietary supplement manufacturers do have to follow some rules regarding labeling and the claims that can be made about the supplements. The claim can be made that a dietary supplement addresses a nutritional deficiency, supports health, or reduces the risk for a particular health problem when there is enough evidence to support that claim. Many supplements contain active ingredients that can have strong effects in the body. Always be alert to the possibility of unexpected side effects, especially when taking a new product.
Effectiveness :If you don’t eat a nutritious variety of foods, some supplements might help you get adequate amounts of essential nutrients. However, supplements can’t take the place of the variety of foods that are important to a healthy diet.
Let your health care providers know which dietary supplements you’re taking so that you can discuss what’s best for your overall health. Your health care provider can help you determine which supplements, if any, might be valuable for you.Keep a record of the supplements you take in one place, just as you should be doing for all of your medicines. Note the specific product name, the dose you take, how often you take it, and the reason why you use each one. You can also bring the products you use with you when you see your health care provider.