Do you take vitamins or micronutrient supplements? If you do, you’re not alone. A 2018 study showed that 75% of Americans take one or more. Supplements are big business and getting bigger all the time. The global dietary supplement market is projected to grow from $71.81 billion in 2021 to $128.64 billion in 2028.
Researchers attribute the growing popularity of supplements to ever-increasing interest in nutrition and preventive medicine. But before you jump on the supplement bandwagon, consider this:
- The FDA is not authorized to approve dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness. In fact, many dietary supplements can be marketed without even notifying the FDA.
- Most people do not need to take vitamins or mineral supplements.
Even though the supplement industry would like us to believe that it is possible to get the same nutrients from a capsule that you can from a plate of fresh vegetables, this does not appear to be true. Recent studies show that an adequate intake of nutrients has a beneficial effect on health, but this was only seen when the nutrients were consumed in food, not supplements. One likely cause for this is that the vitamins and minerals found in food sources are easier to absorb than those in supplement form. Another issue is that without proper regulation, it is impossible to know the quality and effective quantity nutrients in any given supplement. The human body is amazing, having survived, adapted, and evolved for millions of years. Our bodies are good at extracting the vitamins and minerals we need from the food we eat, deciding how much to use, and discarding the rest. The best way to get what we need is through a healthy diet.
So, supplements are expensive and may not be effective or necessary. But the biggest problem with taking supplements is that they can actually be dangerous.
Situations where Supplements Cause Unintended Harm:
Taking a supplement you don’t need, which causes you to take all of the risk without gaining any of the benefit.
Here is a funny story to illustrate this point: One of our Amaze providers was going through her mom’s supplements and found Saw Palmetto. She said, “Mom! Do you know what this is for?” to which her mom replied, “No, but everyone at church said I need to take it. What’s it for?” She smiled and said, “Mom, Saw Palmetto is for prostate health, and you don’t have a prostate! Only men do.”
Taking supplements when you don’t know the ingredients or don’t know if the ingredients are contained in another supplement.
Vitamin B6 is a good example. It is relatively easy to get enough Vitamin B6 from your diet, yet it is contained in most multivitamin supplements. So, while the risk of getting too little vitamin B6 is small, the consequence of taking too much can be severe. Vitamin B6 has a long half-life, which means it can stay in your body for several weeks, and taking excessive amounts repeatedly for days or months can cause neurological symptoms, like numbness in the hands and feet, sensitivity to light, dizziness, and nausea. Without a good understanding of what you’re taking, you can accidentally overdose.
Taking fat-soluble vitamins.
Fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E, and K, are stored in your body for long periods of time and therefore pose a greater risk for toxicity than water-soluble vitamins.
Vitamin A – Retinol is the form of vitamin A that causes the greatest concern for toxicity. If you take a multivitamin, check the label to be sure the majority of vitamin A provided is in the form of beta-carotene, which appears to be safe. Excessive intake of dietary retinol can have a negative impact on bone health and result in delayed growth in children and teens.
Vitamin D – High doses of vitamin D supplements coupled with large amounts of fortified foods containing Vitamin D may cause accumulations in the liver and produce signs of poisoning, including slowed mental and physical growth, decreased appetite, nausea and vomiting.
Vitamin E – It is difficult to get toxic levels of Vitamin E from food and supplemental vitamin E is not recommended due to lack of evidence supporting any added health benefits. High doses of supplemental vitamin E can interact with blood-thinning medications and statins.
Vitamin K – Excessive amounts of Vitamin K can lead to a breakdown of red blood cells and cause liver damage. People taking blood-thinning drugs should minimize their intake of foods with Vitamin K, because excess vitamin K can alter blood clotting times.
Taking a supplement that interacts with one of your medications.
Licorice root is well known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. However, it completely inactivates one of the most common categories of blood pressure medications on the market. This is why it is important to check with a provider before taking any supplement.
If you are interested in taking supplements, or you take supplements and don’t know enough about them, call Amaze. We have experienced providers who specialize in holistic health and are happy to help you understand exactly which supplements you need.
At Amaze we want to help you get healthy and stay healthy. If you think Amaze might be able to help, chances are we can. So, please reach out! Connect with a medical provider through your Amaze account or call (720) 577-5251.