Approximately half of the adult population takes at least one supplement. It's easy to understand why supplements sell so much. The public has a legitimate desire for good health and the supplement industry has a strong desire for good sales. In most cases, scientific research on supplements begins with simple observational studies, in which researchers compare the health status of people taking a particular supplement with the health of people who do not take the supplement.
It is an important effort, but the results are not always maintained. Therefore, the next step is to conduct randomized clinical trials, in which volunteers are assigned by lot to take the supplement or an identical-looking placebo (dummy pill) while researchers monitor their health. In the best studies, neither volunteers nor researchers know who is getting the real thing until the code is broken at the end of the trial. However, fiber supplements offer some of the same health benefits as food-based fiber, said Lupton and Sandon.
Supplements that list nutrients individually, such as vitamin C, or that use chemical names such as ascorbic acid, are almost certainly synthetic. For people with cardiovascular disease who do not eat fish regularly, it is reasonable to take a fish oil supplement. Zhang says that some populations may benefit from certain supplements, including the elderly who often have difficulty absorbing nutrients from food and those with dietary restrictions that can lead to deficiencies. While getting the right nutrients in the right amounts from food was associated with longer life, the same was not the case with nutrients in supplements, says study co-author Fang Zhang, associate professor of epidemiology at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.
Supplements aren't for everyone, but older adults and others may need them to get the nutrients they would otherwise lack. Synthetic nutrients are dietary supplements made artificially in a laboratory environment or in an industrial process. But excess calcium from food was not associated with a similar increase in mortality risk, says Zhang, suggesting that the body may not be able to remove excess supplemental calcium as well as natural calcium. If someone is taking medicines daily, they may need to take them at different times than supplements.
For certain groups of people at risk of nutritional deficiencies, certain synthetic supplements may be beneficial. Vitamin D supplements have been linked to numerous benefits related to cancer, bone health, and brain function, to name a few. The team, from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Medford, MA, conducted a study to assess the association between dietary supplement use and all-cause mortality. However, several other studies have linked multivitamin supplements to memory improvement in older adults (40, 41, 42, 4.If you're wondering if you need a vitamin and mineral supplement, talk to your doctor or dietitian.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, people who take certain medications, including tricyclic antidepressants, diabetes medicines, cholesterol-lowering drugs, lithium, digoxin, or the anticonvulsant drug carbamazepine, should not use fiber supplements without talking to a health care professional health.