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Are Vitamins and Supplements worth taking?

Since their introduction to the market in the 1940s, millions of Americans have been taking vitamins and supplements. Some of the most common reasons include:

  • Combat a vitamin deficiency
  • Reduce risk of certain health conditions
  • Improve overall health and wellness

When it comes to vitamins and supplements, it seems like everywhere you look, someone has advice on what you should try next. However, the medical providers at Flying Horse Medical Center in Colorado Springs & Monument want to help you understand that while vitamins and supplements do have benefits, there are some that can be harmful.

In this article, we’ll explain 5 things you need to know about vitamins and supplements for enhancing your health and wellness.

Who is Taking Vitamins and Supplements?

Research shows that:

  • Approximately 1/3 of Americans are taking some type of vitamin supplement
  • Approximately 30% of the 65+ population are taking 4 or more supplements
  • 40% of vitamin sales are multivitamin/mineral supplements
  • The most popular supplement contains DHA, EPA, or omega-3 fatty acids or fish oil

5 Things You Need to Know

If you are considering taking vitamin supplements for your overall health and well-being, it’s important to understand a few things. Below are 5 things you need to know about vitamin supplements.

Supplements are available in a variety of forms

Supplements come in a variety of forms: pill, liquid, or powder. The end goal is the same- to supplement nutrition and improve your health. These supplements usually contain at least one of the following:

The most popular options are multi-vitamins but they can also be purchased as a standalone supplement as well. The common denominator is that they are labeled as “dietary supplements.”

Are supplements really worth taking?

While vitamins and supplements are not a “magic” cure for everyone, there is some evidence that they do at least sometimes work. If a particular vitamin or supplement is not necessarily beneficial for you, the good news is that there is little to no risk to your health.

Billions of dollars have been spent on researching vitamins and supplements and, unfortunately, the evidence is not completely clear. Most studies suggest that while they may offer some benefits, vitamins will not reduce your chances of developing certain medical conditions, slow cognitive decline, or improve your life expectancy.

In fact, it is against the law for vitamin and supplement companies to make these types of claims. Also, keep in mind that most of the products you find in-store or online are different from those that are used in the studies.

Supplements are not always safe

While most research indicates that vitamins and supplements are not harmful, it’s still important to be cautious about what you put in your body.

According to medical experts, some supplements can interact with medications you are taking or can be harmful if you have certain medical conditions. Additionally, most of the studies have not included pregnant or nursing women or children. Therefore, these populations may need to take extra precautions.

Finally, the regulations on vitamins and supplements are not as stringent as those on prescription medications. Sometimes, there may be unsafe ingredients present that are not listed on the label. Also, some products are marketed as dietary supplements that actually contain prescription drugs that are not allowed in these products.

Discuss supplement usage with your medical provider

When choosing a dietary supplement, it’s important to be smart about it. Since the safety and effectiveness of a supplement depend on your current health and medications, it’s important to discuss your usage with your medical provider.

In addition, keep the following in mind:

  • Follow the directions on the label as well as your medical provider’s advice
  • Carefully check labels for ingredients, percent daily value, and drug interactions
  • Be wary of extreme claims
  • Natural does not mean safe
  • Store supplements properly, out of reach of children
  • Be aware of the dangers of weight-loss supplements

Nothing is as nutritious as a healthy diet

Regardless of your goal when taking vitamins and supplements, nothing has the same impact as a healthy diet. The primary purpose of a supplement is to enhance your healthy diet and lifestyle.  You should never use a supplement as an alternative to real food.

Schedule Your Wellness Exam at Flying Horse Medical Center Today

Your body requires vitamins and minerals to develop and function as it should. Typically, you can get everything you need with a healthy diet. However, some people need a little boost- which is where supplements come in.

If you have questions or concerns about supplement usage, let the medical providers at Flying Horse Medical Center in Colorado Springs & Monument help. We offer a variety of medical and psychiatry services for patients of all ages.

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