Most of the adults who live in the United States are currently taking or have taken at least one type of dietary supplement on either a daily or occasional basis. These supplements include minerals, vitamins, botanicals and herbal blends, enzymes, amino acids, and so much more. While dietary supplements are now available in multiple forms, the most common forms being wither a powder, tablet, or capsule. With that being said, there has recently been a huge surge in supplements that come in drink and bar form as well, an example being an energy drink or bar. Some of the more popular varieties of these are going to include minerals such as iron and calcium; vitamins D and E; herbs that will include garlic and echinacea; and even some more specialty types of products such as probiotics, glucosamine, and of course, fish oils.
With all of the supplements available to you on a daily basis, it can quickly become overwhelming when it comes to deciding which one you are going to use. Should you go for the one that puts claims on their label, the one that is guaranteed to work, or the one that is on sale for buy one get one free? With all of the choices that you are going to be faced with, you are surely going to want to choose the one that is going to be the best quality and most effective for what it is supposed to do. With that being said, here is everything that you will need to know about dietary supplements so that you can get exactly what you are looking for, and it all starts with the dietary supplement label.
Dietary Supplement Labels
Every single product that claims to be a dietary supplement must have a Supplement Facts panel on the container. This label is going to tell you about the contents of what is inside, the amount of the active ingredients that you will be getting per serving, as well as any other ingredients that may have been used as well (this can include things such as binders, fillers, or flavorings). While the manufacturer is going to suggest a recommended serving size, it is best if you speak with your health care provider in order to decide whether or not that amount is going to be optimal for you or if you should take a different amount.
The Supplements Effectiveness
If you have realized that you are not necessarily eating as many healthy and nutritious foods as you should be eating on a regular basis, you may want to think about taking a supplement to help make sure you are getting an adequate amount of the essential nutrients that your body requires to perform optimally. However, you never want to rely on any type of supplement as your main source of nutrients, using them to replace the foods that are most important to your healthy diet. Think of these supplements as an insurance policy, as they are going to ensure that you are getting any of the vitamins and minerals that you may not have gotten enough of throughout the day. And if you would like to know more information in regard to how to eat well and what you should be eating on a daily basis, you can get all that information from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and from MyPlate.
There has been scientific evidence that has revealed that some of the dietary supplements available can be beneficia to your overall health, as well as for managing certain health conditions that you may have. For example, vitamin D and calcium are two very important minerals that your body requires in order to keep your bones strong and help reduce any potential bone loss; folic acid is going to help decrease the potential risk of having certain birth defects; and fish oils such as omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to the prevention of heart disease. While there is still much more research that is needed in order to safely classify the effectiveness of all the supplements that are on the market today, the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) does not do any type of verification process prior to any dietary supplements being marketed and sold.
What this means is that dietary supplements are able to make any type of claim that they want, no matter how outrageous that claim may be, as the FDA does not regulate dietary supplements in any way. Because of this, you must be extra careful when you are first shopping around for a particular supplement. If this is the case, the best thing you can do is to look at user reviews to see how others have liked the particular supplement that you are interested in, as well as making sure that you are only purchasing your supplements from the more reputable brands.
Supplement Safety and Risk
Many of the supplements that are available to you are going to contain active ingredients that have the potential to cause strong effects within your body. With that said, you are going to want to be sure that you are always alert to this possibility happening and experiencing some unexpected side effects whenever you are starting on any type of new dietary product.
When it comes to supplements, they are going to be most likely to cause unexpected side effects or even harm if you are taking them instead of any prescribed medicine that you are supposed to be taking, or even if you are taking many different types of supplements at the same time. For example, there are some supplements which have the potential to increase your risk for bleeding or if you are taking them right before or even after a surgery, it can mess with the effects of your anesthesia response. Dietary supplements are also able to interact with some of the prescription drugs that you may be taking, causing even more serious problems for you. Here are some examples of how supplements can cause bigger problems when not taken correctly.
- If you are taking vitamin K, it has the ability to reduce the effects of the blood thinner known as Coumadin, which is used to help prevent your blood from clotting.
- By taking St. John’s wort, it can potentially speed up how quickly your body will breakdown many different drugs (some of which include birth control pills and antidepressants) which will then reduce how effective they actually are to you.
- Many different antioxidant supplements, including vitamins E and C, are able to reduce how effective some types of chemotherapy for cancer really is.
Another thing that you are going to want to keep in mind is that there are many dietary supplements that are now being added to a larger and larger number of different foods, some of which include beverages and even breakfast cereals. With that in mind, it can mean that you are going to be getting an even higher amount of that particular supplement without even really thinking about it, which isn’t necessarily good as more is not always going to be better. When you are taking more of a supplement than you actually need, it is always going to be much more expensive for you and can even boost your risk of experiencing some type of negative side effect.
For an example, let’s use vitamin A. if you get too much of it, you may start to experience headaches and it can even cause severe damage to your liver, reduce how strong your bones are, and even cause birth defects. Another example is iron. If you consume an excess amount of iron on a regular basis, it can cause both vomiting and nausea, as well as damage your liver and other organs in your body.
What this means is that you are going to need to be cautious when you are taking any dietary supplements, especially if you are or considering becoming pregnant or nursing. And if you have children, be sure that you are extra careful whenever you are giving them any types of dietary supplements that are not a basic children’s multivitamin. This is because most of the supplements that are available to you have not been tested for how safe they are in women who are nursing or pregnant, or children either.
If you are currently taking dietary supplements and feel as though you are experiencing some type of serious reaction to them, be sure that you contact your health care provider immediately and let them know the symptoms that you are experiencing. Depending on how severe they are, they may send a report about your experience to the FDA, which you can do as well if you feel there is something that they should be made aware of. Simply give them a call or visit their website for all the information you will need to do so. On top of that, you can also report your experience and reaction to the supplement company themselves by using their contact information that is going to be on the label of the product.