Are Supplements Good or Bad for You?

Are supplements good or bad for you? This is a question that many people have, especially those who are looking to improve their health and well-being. The truth is, supplements can be beneficial in certain situations, but they can also be harmful if taken in excess or without proper guidance. It's important to understand the potential risks and benefits of taking supplements before you start taking them. According to Johanna Dwyer, DSc, RD, senior nutrition scientist at the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health, and professor of medicine (nutrition) and community health at the Tufts University School of Medicine, there are certain vitamins and minerals that can be consumed in excess, such as vitamin D, calcium and folic acid.

The Department of Health and Social Welfare recommends certain supplements for certain groups of people who are at risk of suffering from a deficiency. For example, some population groups are advised to take a vitamin D supplement every day of the year. It's also important to note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not determine if dietary supplements are effective before they are marketed. However, it's important to be careful when taking any supplement.

Supplements can interact with other medications you are taking or pose risks if you have certain medical conditions, such as liver disease, or are going to undergo surgery. A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that the adverse effects of supplements were responsible for an average of about 23,000 emergency department (ED) visits per year. In addition, the packaging of dietary supplements is not required to include possible adverse effects, nor are there rules on the maximum size of pills (an obvious risk for older people). The authors defined “dietary supplements” as herbal or complementary products and as vitamin or amino acid micronutrients.

The federal government can take legal action against companies and websites that sell dietary supplements when companies make false or misleading statements about their products, if they promote them as treatments or cures for diseases, or if their products are not safe. It's important to talk to your doctor about any supplements you are taking, including vitamins and minerals, and also about the dose you are taking. And keep in mind that supplement manufacturers and sellers have a financial interest in promoting their products. The Office of Dietary Supplements website has a useful form, My Dietary Supplement and Medicine Record, that you can print and complete at home.

This site includes fact sheets and videos on dietary supplements for the public, educators and health professionals. In conclusion, it's important to be aware of the potential risks associated with taking supplements before you start taking them. It's also important to talk to your doctor about any supplements you are taking and follow their advice. With proper guidance and understanding of the potential risks and benefits associated with taking supplements, they can be a beneficial part of a healthy lifestyle.

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