Dr Zoe reveals which supplements to take
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Most people should get all the vitamins and minerals they need through their diet. However, if you’re not getting an adequate intake of vital substances through your diet, a case can be made for taking dietary supplements. Before diving into this market, there are important considerations.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently published safety guidelines for dietary supplements.
As part of these guidelines, the FDA highlighted the some of the risks associated with taking dietary supplements.
The FDA says: “Many supplements contain active ingredients that have strong biological effects in the body.
“This could make them unsafe in some situations and hurt or complicate your health.”
The regulatory body lists specific actions could lead to “harmful – even life-threatening” consequences.
It says combining supplements and using supplements with medicines (whether prescription or over-the-counter) can land you in the danger zone.
It also advises against:
- Substituting supplements for prescription medicines
- Taking too much of some supplements, such as vitamin A, vitamin D, or iron
- Some supplements can also have unwanted effects before, during, and after surgery. So, be sure to inform your healthcare provider, including your pharmacist about any supplements you are taking.
The FDA also makes the crucial distinction between drugs and dietary supplements.
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The health body says: “Unlike drugs, supplements are not permitted to be marketed for the purpose of treating, diagnosing, preventing, or curing diseases. That means supplements should not make disease claims, such as ‘lowers high cholesterol’ or ‘treats heart disease’.”
As it explains, claims such as these cannot be legitimately made for dietary supplements.
Some common dietary supplements include:
- Fish Oil
- Glucosamine and/or
- Chondroitin Sulphate
- Vitamin D
- St. John’s Wort
- Saw Palmetto
- Green Tea.
Stay on the safe side
Most people do not need to take vitamin supplements and can get all the vitamins and minerals they need by eating a healthy, balanced diet.
Vitamins and minerals, such as iron, calcium and vitamin C, are essential nutrients that your body needs in small amounts to work properly.
Many people choose to take supplements but taking too much or taking them for too long could be harmful.
The Department of Health and Social Care recommends certain supplements for some groups of people who are at risk of deficiency.
For example, a GP may also recommend supplements if you need them for a medical condition, explains the NHS.
“For example, you may be prescribed iron supplements to treat iron deficiency anaemia.”
Vitamin D supplementation is another example of this.
Some groups of the population are at greater risk of not getting enough vitamin D and are advised to take a supplement every day of the year.
The NHS recommends that breastfed babies should be given a daily supplement containing 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D from birth, even if the mother is taking a supplement containing vitamin D herself.
It also recommends:
- Babies having 500mls (about a pint) or more of formula a day should not be given a vitamin D supplement, because infant formula is fortified with vitamin D and other nutrients
- All children aged one to four years old should be given a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D
- People who are not often exposed to the sun – such as people who are frail or housebound, are in an institution such as a care home, or usually wear clothes that cover most of their skin when outdoors should take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D.
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