The Most Popular Supplement in the World: What You Need to Know

The vitamin supplement industry is expected to increase significantly in 2024, with B vitamins being one of the most sought-after products. Pregnant women, older adults, and people with certain medical conditions are buying this supplement to combat a number of deficiencies. Approximately half of the adult population takes at least one supplement, and it's easy to understand why. The public has a legitimate desire for good health, and the supplement industry has a strong desire for good sales.

The Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act restricts the FDA's ability to regulate products that are marketed as dietary supplements, even though most people buy them for health reasons, not nutrition reasons. Manufacturers can sell these products without providing evidence of their purity, potency, safety, or effectiveness. In most cases, scientific research on supplements begins with simple observational studies, in which researchers compare the health status of people who take a particular supplement with the health of people who don't take it. It's a major effort, but the results don't always hold up.

Therefore, the next step is to conduct randomized clinical trials, in which volunteers are randomly assigned to take the supplement or an identical looking placebo (fictitious pill) while researchers track their health status. In the best studies, neither volunteers nor researchers know who keeps the real product until the code is deciphered at the end of the trial. Everyone wants to know if supplements can help. This is where we are today, but we must be attentive to new results as recommendations will change as scientific studies arrive. Unfortunately, in most cases, studies have failed to confirm our hopes, although there are exceptions.

Many people take supplements in the belief that they will preserve health or prevent disease; many others use supplements in an attempt to treat specific conditions that have already developed. We'll look at popular supplements in both categories, starting with preventive supplements used primarily by healthy people. It's very difficult to get enough vitamin D from your diet; blue fish and fortified dairy products are the only important sources. So supplements make sense for most adults. The form known as vitamin D3 is usually recommended, but D2 is also effective; for best results, take vitamin D along with a meal that has some fat. If you want to be sure that you need this supplement, request a blood test; levels of at least 30 nanograms per milliliter are considered ideal.

Vitamin B12 is only found in animal foods, so strict vegetarians may need supplements. In addition, many older people don't produce enough stomach acid needed to release vitamin B12 from animal products so that it can be absorbed. But B12 is also added to fortified cereals and other foods, and this synthetic vitamin B12 is easy to absorb even without stomach acid. That means that a single bowl of cereal can provide your daily recommended dose of 2.4 micrograms (mcg) a day. However, if your consumption of fortified cereals is irregular, taking a vitamin B12 supplement is reasonable. Folate enrichment has alleviated the problem of congenital abnormalities, but obstetricians continue to recommend supplements to women who are trying to conceive or are already pregnant.

Most people benefit from vitamin D, many from fiber and some from fish oil. And I'm sorry to say, popular supplements used to treat medical problems don't have better results. Until (or unless) better oversight is available, supplements are likely to remain the Wild West of American health. Today, only a few are likely to help, some may do more harm than good, and most will be little more than costly disappointments. However, false hopes can be toxic on their own if they prevent you from taking good care of yourself or getting the medical care you need. So even if you take supplements make sure you eat well, exercise regularly and work with your doctor to keep your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar under good control. And while you see your doctor for checkups screenings and treatments be sure to tell him about all your supplements.

Many people are reluctant to tell doctors that they are using alternative or complementary therapies but full disclosure is important for health not least because supplements can have adverse drug interactions. Creatine monohydrate is the most popular sports nutrition supplement on the market today. It is the best-selling training supplement of all time and has more published human studies demonstrating its safety and effectiveness than any other supplement in history. Among adults aged 20 and over 42.4% used none 22.5% used one 13.8% used two 7.5% used three and 13.8% consumed four or more dietary supplements in the past 30 days (figure). The supplement has been tested for more than 125 herbicides and pesticides and is free of gluten dairy products and soy. Vitamin C is another supplement that is constantly growing in consumption and the global market is expected to grow by 4.8% over the next five years and prices of the supplement are rising. In addition some specific stages of life require greater vitamin and mineral needs such as before and during pregnancy so supplements may be recommended. For example if you know that you don't get enough vitamin D in your diet or you have limited exposure to the sun you may decide to take a vitamin D supplement.

A high level of dietary supplement use can contribute substantially to nutrient intake in the United States which could mitigate nutrient scarcity and increase the risk of overintake especially with simultaneous high use of more than one product. The use of two dietary supplements (10.2% for those aged 20-39 14.5% for those aged 40-59 and 17.3% for those over 60) three dietary supplements (4.2% for those aged 20-39 7.7% for those aged 40-59 and 11.4% for those aged 60 and over) and four or more dietary supplements (6.8% for those aged 20-39 10% for those aged 40-59 and 16% for those aged 60 and over).

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