Half of Americans report regularly taking vitamins or other mineral supplements, according to a poll conducted by Gallup, a company providing data-driven news based on U.S. and world polls, daily tracking and public opinion research.
Many people take supplements in order to support their health and well-being. However, there are many factors that determine a supplement’s effectiveness.
“Different people taking supplements might have different reasons,” PSUC nutrition and dietetics assistant professor Terrence Vance said. “But a lot of people take supplements because supplements can benefit them, either help with the lack of diet or herbal supplements for weight loss or social performance like sport.”
Vance also mentioned the pros and cons of taking supplements. For pros, he said supplements could be beneficial for some people. For example, pregnant women are recommended to take prenatal supplements in order to cover any nutritional gaps in the mother’s diet and maintain her own health during pregnancy.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have the authority to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed, according to the FDA’s official website.
Vance said this is one of the big cons of taking supplements.
“The burden is really on the consumers to make the choices,” he said.
Therefore, Vance suggested everybody should contact a professional to find out reliable and recommended brands if they want to take supplements.
Research shows that about two-thirds of American adults take at least one dietary supplement, the most common include multivitamin or mineral pills.
There are many other factors that can affect the product’s quality. Sophomore nursing major Emily Haibon said everybody should pay attention to the amount off supplements that he or she takes and not overuse them.
She suggested people should try to change their diet first before choosing to take supplements.
“You have to be really careful about toxicity level because your body can reach a point that you can get sick if you get too much of something,” Haibon said.
For example, she said excess amounts of vitamin A are not good, and they could develop vitamin A toxicity. Taking too much vitamin A can cause dizziness, nausea, headaches, coma and even death, according to the National Institutes Health. High intakes of vitamin A can also cause birth defects in pregnant women.
“Some people sometimes just self-prescribe for whatever reason,” she said. “Then they unintentionally take too much and harm their bodies.”
Senior nursing major Kelsey Borcina recommended people should talk to their doctors before deciding to take supplements.
“If you are on a certain medication, a supplement can interfere with those medication,” she said.
For that reason, she emphasized the importance of seeking professional help in order to get the most out of vitamin or mineral supplements.
Borcina said one of the reason people take supplements is because they do not eat a well-balanced diet and end up not getting all the daily vitamins and minerals they need for their bodies.
“I think we should all eat a healthy diet because I just believe in the most natural holistic kind of way to get things done,” she said. “The food in plants and animals that are available to us have the vitamins in a natural form, and if you eat the right food, you are going to get what you need.”
Vance also believes that the best choice is to get as much nutrients from food as possible. When someone eats a well-balanced diet, he or she does not just get one specific kind of vitamin, but multitude of them. Therefore, he highly recommends that everybody take supplements when needed.
“Sometimes you do need the supplements because your body does not produce enough of something,” Haibon said. “Before taking anything, go to your doctor, ask for a checking and try to change your diet first.”
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