It is generally believed that consuming enough micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) keeps our bodies healthy or even curtails the risks of developing chronic diseases. That is why many people from all walks of life are taking various kinds of dietary supplements such as multivitamins, fish oil capsules, probiotics, herbal pills, etc. It is an exceedingly acceptable and common practice for people to take them daily in the name of health and longevity. Some do so to balance any deficiencies that they have. Others are simply fulfilling their physicians’ recommendations or are going through special conditions in life, such as pregnancy. Many take supplements just because they’ve read somewhere that it’s beneficial to their health. But are these products safe and effective for everyone?
According to the NHS, people who eat a healthy, balanced diet generally do not need supplements, as food is the best source of vitamins and minerals. For those whose diets are insufficient, taking supplements as a complement to their daily meals is a good idea to help nourish the body. However, taking too many supplements can actually be detrimental to our health, especially when done daily over a prolonged period of time.
Before starting to take any kinds of supplements, arm yourself with crucial facts below so as to determine which products are harmless and suited for your health needs.
When it comes to vitamin supplements, more is not always better. Taking more doses than the daily required amount does not bring any positive results, and can be harmful in some cases. Some examples are listed below:
Always check the nutrition facts and labels on your supplements to determine if the content suits your needs before purchasing them, to reduce the risk of getting negative side effects. More information regarding the symptoms, side effects, and treatments of vitamin overdose can be found here and here.
Before purchasing any dietary supplements, invariably do your own research. Lots of misinformation about drugs, health, and wellness have circulated throughout the internet for years, but even more so during this pandemic.
It is important for you and your family’s health to not fall for fear-mongering marketing tactics. Make a habit of checking if the company is credible and if the claims are tested. Read from trusted sources rather than social media posts, and always triple-check before re-sharing them. Do not jump on trends of taking a certain supplement just because it’s viral and “everyone you know is taking it.” Find information about the side effects, recommended dosage, and safe periods of intake. Read everything on the labels, and be aware that just because it’s natural, does not mean it’s good for you. Be extra careful before buying supplements for children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, neurodiverse persons, the elderly, and people with medical conditions or allergies.
The best way to know which supplements are good for you —or if you even need to take one— is to get recommendations from your physician. There are tests that can be done to determine if you have specific deficiencies that require supplementation. By having a healthcare professional assisting you in picking out a supplement that’s suitable for your requirements, you are giving your body the nourishment that it needs. It will bring you much closer to a better, healthier life than blindly taking lots of different supplements without knowing what it does to the body.
Keep in mind that no supplements in the world can be a substitute for a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. There is never a “magic pill” or a “quick cutoff” to achieve ultimate health and longevity. Always try your best to eat nourishing foods in a balanced manner, get enough sleep, manage your stress levels, and exercise regularly to stay healthy.
Brandon Peters, M. D. (n.d.). Supplement Overuse: When Essential Nutrients Lead to Vitamin Toxicity. Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/vitamin-toxicity-4776094.
Center for Devices and Radiological Health. (n.d.). The FDA Warns that Biotin May Interfere with Lab Tests. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/safety-communications/fda-warns-biotin-may-interfere-lab-tests-fda-safety-communication.
Cherry, K. (2021, February 26). The Symptoms of Too Much Vitamin D. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/symptoms-of-too-much-vitamin-d-5105134.
Do you need a daily supplement? Harvard Health. (2021, February 12). https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/do-you-need-a-daily-supplement.
Katsipoutis, S. (2020, September 4). What To Know About The Side Effects Of Taking Biotin For Your Hair And Nails. Women’s Health. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/a19631172/biotin-side-effect/.
Link, R. (2018, July 17). 8 Little-Known Side Effects of Too Much Fish Oil. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fish-oil-side-effects#TOC_TITLE_HDR_10.
MS, M. M. (2018, June 16). 7 Signs and Symptoms of Zinc Overdose. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/zinc-overdose-symptoms.
Multiple vitamin overdose. Mount Sinai Health System. (n.d.). https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/poison/multiple-vitamin-overdose.
NHS. (n.d.). Do I Need Vitamin Supplements? NHS Choices. https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/food-and-diet/do-i-need-vitamin-supplements/.
NHS. (n.d.). Eat Well. NHS Choices. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/.
Streit, L. (2018, September 27). Micronutrients: Types, Functions, Benefits and More. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/micronutrients.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Office of Dietary Supplements – Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/WYNTK-Consumer/.
WebMD. (n.d.). VITAMIN C (ASCORBIC ACID): Overview, Uses, Side Effects, Precautions, Interactions, Dosing and Reviews. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1001/vitamin-c-ascorbic-acid.