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. Most people don't need to take vitamin supplements and can get all the vitamins and minerals they need by eating a healthy, balanced diet.
Some supplements may have side effects, especially if taken before surgery or with other medicines. Supplements can also cause problems if you have certain health conditions. And the effects of many supplements have not been tested on children, pregnant women and other groups. Talk to your health care provider if you are thinking about taking dietary supplements.
Like most other supplements that are really effective, they can be helpful in very specific circumstances, but you don't need to take them continuously on a daily basis. Vitamin C may not do anything to prevent or treat the common cold, but it's worth taking the other widely used cold supplement, zinc. If you are pregnant, are trying to have a baby, or could become pregnant, it is recommended that you take a 400 microgram folic acid supplement every day until you are 12 weeks pregnant. If you need supplemental fiber, consider psyllium, which has the added benefit of lowering cholesterol levels.
Groups such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) or the United States Pharmacopoeia (USP) test supplements to confirm that they contain the products listed on the label and that they do not have hazardous levels of contaminants. While once-a-day multivitamins are good insurance for filling nutrient deficiencies, he says, if you feel fatigued, for example, “it's very important to get to the root cause of that fatigue, rather than guessing about supplements. 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. For example, certification confirms that a vitamin E supplement contains vitamin E, not that it makes hair grow.
If you want to be sure you need this supplement, ask for a blood test; levels of at least 30 nanograms per milliliter are considered the best. We will take a look at the popular supplements in both categories, starting with preventive supplements used mainly by healthy people. A 2002 review found that vitamin deficiencies are commonly linked to chronic diseases, and supplementation can help. Try eating more pumpkin, spinach, artichoke, soy, beans, tofu, brown rice, or nuts (especially Brazil nuts) before turning to supplements for solutions.
Folate fortification has alleviated the problem of birth defects, but obstetricians continue to recommend supplements for women who are trying to conceive or who are already pregnant. Of non-vitamin and mineral supplements, Hopp says, “fish oil probably has the most scientific evidence to support its use. Observational studies (which are based on data collected from people who already take garlic supplements on their own) have found associations between garlic consumption and a reduced incidence of cancer, but that correlation could be the result of confounding factors.