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What you Need to Know about Supplements

by Karen Rollins Apr 29, 2019

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The dietary supplement industry makes billions of dollars every year, but research suggests that even though many people take extra vitamins and minerals they actually don’t know much about them.

If you’re confused about whether nutritional supplements are worth taking or just a waste of money, this guide aims to help.

What are supplements? 

Dietary supplements provide a person with additional nutrients that may be missing from their diet or are not being consumed in sufficient quantities.

Nutritional supplements come in a variety of forms: capsules, tablets and powders, as well as drinks and energy bars. They include vitamins, minerals, herbs and botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, fibre and fatty acids.

Do I need them? 

If you’re thinking of taking a supplement, you should make sure you consult with a doctor, pharmacist or dietitian, especially if you are on medication.

You should also conduct some thorough research so that you know what you are taking and who is producing it.

Some questions you should consider include:

– What are the potential health benefits of this supplement to me?

– Does this product have any safety risks?

– What is the proper dose to take?

– How, when, and for how long should I take it?

Recent research from the NHS in the UK has found that most people who eat a balanced and varied diet are already getting enough essential vitamins and minerals, however there could be some benefits from supplements for vulnerable groups such as the elderly or children under five.

Are supplements safe?

Experts says supplements are most likely to cause side effects or harm when people take them instead of prescribed medicines; when they’re combined; or when they are taken in too large a dose, such as vitamin D or iron.

Some supplements can also have unwanted effects before, during, and after surgery, and women who are pregnant or nursing a baby should also be cautious.

If, after consulting with a medical professional, you decide to take any type of supplement, you should buy it from a reputable outlet and keep to the recommended dose, and if you experience any side effects, stop taking it immediately.

Below are three vitamins and their benefits: 

Vitamin A is important for vision, bone growth, reproduction and can also help regulate the immune system.

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from damage and supports immune function.

Vitamin C assists in the absorption of iron and helps the body form collagen in bones, cartilage, muscle and blood vessels.

Sources: The NHS / NHS report on supplements / US Food and Drug Administration