Can I Boost My Health With A Pill?
Do supplements bring what they promise?
Almost half the US adult population takes supplements. Even those who don’t take supplements in the form of a pill will get added supplements in the form of fortified breakfast cereals, bread, milk, orange juice or energy drinks. People want to feel better without changing their poor diet or get regular exercise. Unfortunately, most serious studies have not found benefits from vitamins and minerals taken in amounts much higher than the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). It has been shown that too high intake of some vitamins can actually have serious side effects. There are though cases where most people are at risk to get too little of some essential vitamins and there are cases where people need a supplement to cope with reduced ability to absorb certain types of nutrition.
Are supplements quality controlled?
The FDA regulates all sold medication in the US. Even though there are many safeguards, adverse reactions can still occur. Every year the FDA removes many medications from the market as they can be harmful to people.
In 1994, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act sharply restricted the FDA’s ability to regulate products marketed as “dietary supplements. Manufacturers can sell these products without any evidence of their purity or safety. Consider that when you buy a dietary supplement, only the manufacturer really knows what is in it!
Even if the product labels promise great results, the law doesn’t require any evidence of accuracy or truthfulness. Only after the product is on the market, the FDA can react in case of adverse events reported. Unfortunately, as those products are not subscribed by physicians, and are used without medical supervision or monitoring, most of the estimated 50,000 adverse reactions that occur in the US each year are never reported.
There are medical studies in the area of supplements that can bring us more knowledge of the real effect of supplements. Observational studies -> Clinical trials
What supplements should I consider?
Most people get sufficient vitamins from their daily diet, but there are cases where you might want to consider supplementing your diet. Here is what we recommend:
Vitamin D3 combined with vitamin K2 MK7. Most people don’t get enough vitamin D from their diet and the lack of exposure to the sun makes it hard for the body to compensate. If you are 70 or older, supplementing your diet with moderate amounts of vitamin D3, K2 MK7, and calcium can be beneficial for your bone health.
If you are vegan or vegetarian, consider to take vitamin B12, but not beyond the recommended daily amount.
Consider taking fish oil (NOT fish liver oil) if you don’t eat fish regularly
Take fiber if your diet is not rich in vegetables, fruits, grains, and seeds. Consider improving the amount of fiber in your food so you don’t need the supplement.
Consider Coenzyme Q10 ubiquinol for heart health after 50, but consult your doctor first.
You don’t need these supplements
First of all, if you are a healthy individual there is no need to take multivitamin supplements! Adjust your diet if you think you are not getting enough of some vitamins.
Vitamin B3 and red yeast rice can manage cholesterol, but if you have issues with high cholesterol consult your physician. High amounts of vitamin B3 can be harmful for you and the quality of most red yeast rice supplements are poor.
Vitamin A, vitamin E or vitamin C are antioxidants. Certainly antioxidants are essential to your immune system, but they can also be harmful in high doses. There is no indication that amounts beyond the RDA ( Recommended Dietary Allowance) improve your health or immune system. In most cases people get enough of those vitamins from their diet.
There is no reason to take any of those supplements
- Glucosamine and chondroitin
- St. John’s wort
- Saw palmetto
- Ginkgo Biloba
- Chromium or any other weight loss supplement