6 Things Everyone Should Know About Supplements
Most people can get all the vitamins and minerals that they need by eating nutrient-dense foods, but many of us struggle to eat foods every day that are packed with these nutrients. For this reason, the majority of Americans take supplements to get the nutrients that our bodies need. Although taking supplements is common in the U.S., most people don’t know much about them. If you think that you could benefit from taking some type of supplement, there are some things that you should know: They Aren’t a Magic Pill Supplements would fly off the shelf if they were the magic answer to losing weight or looking younger. They may not be able to cure certain diseases and disorders, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t help alleviate symptoms or boost your health. For instance, there are plenty of studies that show how effective taking certain vitamins and minerals can be. One study tracked 9,000 participants for two decades and found that women who took a multivitamin had a 35 percent reduced risk of dying from heart disease. Researchers are constantly studying the effectiveness of supplements for treatment, and there is no doubt that many can and do have surprising benefits. They Are Regulated by the Food and Drug Administration Despite popular belief, supplements are, in fact, regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). On the FDA’s website, it clearly states that the FDA regulates both finished dietary supplement products and dietary ingredients. The confusion lies in the difference between supplements and drugs. While drugs are considered unsafe until proven otherwise, supplements are considered safe unless proven unsafe. This makes some people nervous, but consider this: How many people do you know that have died from vitamins? In 2013, there wasn’t a single reported death from taking vitamin supplements. Supplements have a pretty clean record of being safe, and those that are outspoken about it may not be aware of this fact. Most Americans Lack a Crucial Vitamin or Two Even if you eat relatively healthfully, it is sometimes difficult to consume all the necessary nutrients that your body needs to function. One common vitamin deficiency in the United States is that of vitamin D. Recent reports have found that three-quarters of U.S. teens and adults are deficient in vitamin D and this deficiency can contribute to major problems such as heart disease or diabetes. Taking vitamin D supplements can greatly help teens and adults make up for the gaps in their nutrition so that they can avoid health problems down the road. The body needs essential vitamins and minerals to carry out certain functions, and supplements can be a huge benefit to Americans in this regard. Not All Supplements Mix Well It is common for people to not know that you can’t mix certain vitamins together. Iron interferes with the absorption of zinc. Overdoing it on zinc can lead to a copper deficiency. Some vitamins can even be less effective when taken with tea, such as iron. On the other hand, some vitamins can aid the absorption of other vitamins (vitamin C can enhance the absorption of iron). In addition, some prescription drugs should not be mixed with supplements. For instance, metformin (a diabetes drug) can cause a B-12 deficiency, and those who take metformin should consider taking a B-12 supplement to combat this. Calcium has been known to interfere with thyroid medication. No matter what supplements you decide to take, make sure that you do your research to find out which vitamins and minerals can be taken together. When You Take Them Matters Another fact about supplements that may come as a surprise is that they can be more or less effective depending on the time of day that you take them. Taking magnesium in the evening is preferable, as it can help you fall asleep. Another thing to note is about taking vitamins with certain foods. Some vitamins need to be taken with food so that they can be properly absorbed (usually fat-soluble vitamins), while others can be taken on an empty stomach. Other vitamins should be taken in split doses throughout the day because the body can’t absorb the needed amount all at once. Once again, it is important to talk with a doctor or do some research about the best time to take your supplements.