Are You Supplement Savvy?jennyeven | April 19, 2012
We take vitamins and supplements for many reasons - to strengthen our bones, boost our immunity, and protect our overall health. And although 74 percent of American women take supplements for health reasons, a study published in October of 2011 suggested that many supplements may be a waste of money or even harmful to their health. Although some people do benefit from vitamins and supplements, such as older people benefitting from calcium and vitamin D, there are important do’s and don’ts that should be observed based on recent research.
- Do eat food instead of vitamins or supplements. No pill can replace the nutritional benefits of fruits, vegetables, dairy, whole grains, and lean protein.
- Don’t take large or extra doses of fat soluble vitamins, such as vitamin A. Some research has shown that large doses may lead to birth defects and liver damage.
- Don’t spend too much on pricier name brand vitamins. Most store brand multivitamins contain the same amount of vitamins as higher priced brands. Ask your doctor to recommend a formula that’s right for you.
- Don’t assume all supplements are safe. Federal law doesn’t require dietary supplements have to be tested for safety. Many supplement manufacturers make claims that generally aren’t verified before products reach the market. To ensure that the raw ingredients in the finished product have met the U.S. Pharmacopeia’s high standards, look for the USP-Verified mark on the label. Go to www.usp.org for a list of brands.
- Do consider taking supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids to raise HDL cholesterol, clacium and vitaming D to promote bone health, folic acid for women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, and probiotics to promote intestinal flora.
- Don’t forget the men! They need calcium to protect their bones and should aim for 1,000 mg a day (1,200 starting at age 71). For vitamin D, they need 600 IU daily (800 IU after age 71).
- Do remember children and their nutrient needs. Talk to your doctor about whether they can benefit from taking supplements.
Submitted by Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County. Source: Consumer Reports, April, 2012.