As we age our bodies change and we may require more of certain vitamins and minerals such as: vitamin B12, vitamin D, folate and calcium. While supplements do not take the place of good eating habits, they may help fill in some of the nutrition gaps in your diet. Dietary supplements are not classified as either a food or a drug. They are an oral supplement in either a pill or liquid form that contain a dietary ingredient meant to complement the diet. The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act termed dietary supplements as any of the following: vitamins, minerals, herbs and amino acids, as well as substances such as enzymes, hormones and extracts. It is important to remember dietary supplements are not meant to substitute for healthy foods in your diet.
What is the intended use of supplements?
All too often people think that by taking supplements they can prevent aging skins, cancer, disease or increase hair or nail growth. There are many intended uses for supplements. It is important to know the difference between fact and fiction regarding supplements and what the supplement market promises you.
Can a dietary supplement make up for a poor diet?
No! No dietary supplement can replace all the nutrients lost from a poor diet. However, supplements can provide or replenish some of the vitamins and minerals lost from having an inadequate diet.
Can supplements prevent, treat or cure disease?
No! There is no scientific evidence that shows that taking large doses of vitamins and minerals can prevent, treat or cure chronic diseases. However, taking a vitamin and mineral supplement can help reduce the symptoms you might have with a common cold.
If it’s herbal, does it mean it’s not harmful?
Too much of anything can be harmful. This is true as well for herbal supplements. For example, varieties of mushrooms can be classified as “culinary delicious” or “deadly dangerous”. Herbal supplements should be used with caution and moderation just like other supplements.
Can supplements boost my energy?
No! While B-complex vitamins help the cells in the body produce energy, they cannot produce energy themselves. Only carbohydrates, fat and protein can do that. Boosting your supplement intake will not give you additional energy.
Can taking supplements offer immediate benefits?
No. Supplements will not give you instant results. For vitamins and minerals to work properly, they usually have to be taken for several days or even months. Choosing the right supplements can be difficult and should be done with caution. When selecting a supplement, look for the following: USP (U.S. Phamacopeia) lettering on the label – these supplements meet strict standards for dissolution, disintegration, strength and purity. Avoid high potency supplements that contain more than 100% of the Daily Value (DV). Too much of a “good thing” can be harmful (e.g too much potassium can be damaging to the heart). Avoid taking large doses of individual nutrients without your physician’s approval. Periodically check the expiration dates on the bottle. Check your favorite brands for potency, purity and absorption. Log onto www.consumerlab.com and check out their lab evaluation of supplements. Although reputable brands may cost more, you should choose supplements that have recognized quality control procedures in place.