Vitamin supplements have become a popular way for Americans to stay healthy. Over a third of Americans take a vitamin or mineral supplement every day making it a nearly 15 billion dollar industry. But does it really work?
Experts say a supplement by definition means to use in addition to and not instead of. They feel many Americans just use supplements are expect to be healthy.
Mega-dosing on fat soluble vitamins like A,K,E and D can be dangerous, leading to bone and liver damage.
What about multivitamins?
Some experts say it's a good way to cover your bases while other experts disagree.
One recent national women's study found taking multivitamins did nothing to reduce the rate of major diseases like cancer, heart disease and stroke.
Despite the negative reports, believers say the evidence is in how they feel. Experts also say it's best to do your research. Supplements are not regulated by the FDA. Instead, check out the data and the numbers.
To keep up with adverse events linked to suplements, check the FDA's website for more information.
BACKGROUND: More than one-third of Americans take a supplement daily. "As a culture, we like a quick, easy fix, and that's what pills and supplements provide for us," Susan Hewlings, Ph.D., R.D., of the UCF College of Medicine in Orlando, Fla., told Ivanhoe. Does that fix really do the trick? Many researchers are in agreement that "it depends." Dr. Hewlings recommends all adults take a multivitamin and a fish oil supplement (Omega 3 fatty acids). "Unless you're deficient, you really don't want to take supplements beyond the multivitamin or the Omega 3's," she said.
One thing researchers are in agreement on: "Megadosing" is never a good idea. Exceeding the daily value (DV) of vitamins and/or minerals can lead to complications such as liver and bone damage. Look for the amount of DV on supplement bottle labels and consider the fact that you may be naturally getting certain vitamins and minerals through your food. The National Academy of Sciences recommends, for example, that it is dangerous to exceed 2,000 IU (international units) of vitamin D per day.
SUPPLEMENTS VS. DIET: Researchers advise that supplements are just that: supplements, not replacements for good nutrition. The Mayo Clinic says if you get your vitamins and minerals from supplements rather than natural food sources, you may be missing out on certain benefits like fiber, phytochemicals and antioxidants -- all shown to prevent diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
If you decide to supplement, the Mayo Clinic recommends doing the following:
* Read labels carefully. Vitamin and mineral supplements and their dosages are not currently regulated by the FDA.
* Look for "USP," or U.S. Pharmacopeia, on the label. This ensures the supplement meets the organization's standards for strength, purity, disintegration and dissolution.
* Avoid supplements that provide "megadoses," or doses above the 100 percent DV for each vitamin and mineral.
For More Information, Contact:
Susan Hewlings, Ph.D., R.D.
UCF College of Medicine
(Information from Ivanhoe)
Copyright 2010 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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