With an increased awareness of health and wellness, nutritional supplement use amongst Americans are at an all high. According to the 2017 Annual Survey on Dietary Supplements, three fourths of Americans took dietary supplements last year. At Integrated Eating, we believe nutritional supplements can provide certain nutrients to your body for optimum health. However, there are some common misconceptions and myths about dietary supplements that we believe you should be aware of.
Myth #1 All People Need Supplements:
Not Necessarily. Most adults can meet all of they vitamin and mineral requirements from a well balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, fats and proteins. Most of my patients who are recovering from disordered eating are approaching balanced eating or still learning how to get enough of the foods to provide overall wellness. For this reason, I usually suggest to my clients to begin on a standard multi-vitamin/mineral formula, and a probiotic at the minimum.
In addition, if a lab draw indicates deficiencies, such as low iron or Vitamin D, we will require more specific supplementation.
There is such a thing as too much of a good thing! Taking the right amount of supplements is also important. Toxicity can occur from taking too much or too many supplements. For example, Vitamin C toxicity can cause an upset stomach or diarrhea. Too much Vitamin B can cause neuropathy. Therefore, it is essential to make sure you are taking just the right amount of vitamin supplement as well. We suggest consulting these details with your dietitian.
Myth #2 The FDA Approves All Dietary Supplements:
This is false. The FDA does not approve nutritional supplements. This means that anyone can pretty much sell “supplement” products to you. This can range from your run of the mill vitamins to herbal varieties, weight loss agents and other things like collagen.
While the FDA does not approve supplements, third party certification and seals such as USP exist to ensure certain brands are safe for the public. In addition, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) make efforts to get rid of unsafe and mislabeled products.
It is only after the fact-once a product is on the market- that regulations can take place. If a supplement company has known adverse effect on its consumers, only then are they required to report this to the FDA. An example, is was the popular weight loss supplement ephedra. The FDA took this supplement off the market in 2004 after consumers reported more than 16,000 cases of adverse health effects.
Myth #3 Supplements Don't Interact With Drugs:
Sometimes they do. Certain herbal supplements and vitamins do interact with drugs so it is important to discuss with your medical providers. Some combinations of drugs and supplements could also cause unwanted side effects. For example, Vitamin K can interfere with the medication Warfarin. Antibiotics will destroy probiotics if taken at the same time. Ask for guidance!
While there can be some risks to taking supplements, supplements are generally safe. With more than 68% of US adults taking supplements, there are very few adverse reactions reported by the government. When looking at emergency room visits per year, 731,000 were caused by pharmaceutical drugs, while only 23,000 were caused by dietary supplements per year, providing some proof that most supplements do not have adverse effects.
Supplements can be a potent and integral part of your healthcare regimen. Generally speaking, most supplements are considered safe. It is however, important to understand the risks associated with taking vitamins and supplements.
Be wary of claims that promise instant health. Supplements don’t always do what’s promised! While it is true that supplements can improve health, it is important to be wary of nutritional supplement claims. According to the FDA, Supplements cannot claim to treat of prevent disease. For example, if a supplement promised better immune health or weight loss, it probably is too good to be true. It is important to remember that there is no miracle supplement for health and wellness and good eating.In addition, it is important to research those supplements that are new to the market. Always consult your healthcare professional before starting supplements.
Integr Med (Encinitas). 2016 Jun; 15(3): 20–24.PMCID: PMC4982643PMID: 27547162 Three Myths About Dietary Supplements … and How Knowing the Right Answers Is Good for Your Integrative Medicine Practice. Loren Israelsen and Frank Lampe