Vitamin bottles boast a lot of health promises, but are these claims too good to be true? From heart and cardiovascular support to improving cognitive functions, memory and digestion, there seems to be a vitamin that can solve your every health woe as well as prevent problems. With so many vitamins available on the market, how do you know which ones, if any, you should take?
Are they safe?
The safety of vitamins and supplements is questionable, as the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t have to investigate supplements before they hit the market, according to Popular Science writer Sara Chodosh. Instead, responsibility to validate supplements and whether they do or don’t do what they claim to do (safely) is left to the manufacturer.
“They’re also tasked with policing themselves to ensure the supplements aren’t contaminated. This near total lack of oversight means that a huge fraction of botanical supplements either contain an entirely different active ingredient from what they claim or contain a filler like rice powder,” she writes.
Since vitamin and supplement manufacturers present their products as being similar to medicine, which is completely vetted by the FDA before it’s available to the public, it’s no surprise that consumers believe that they’re safe, adds Chodosh. Instead of grabbing the cheapest or most expensive supplement off the drugstore shelf, she recommends checking which brands have voluntarily undergone testing as reported on the United States Pharmacopeia website.
Which ones are necessary?
Although a multivitamin seems to be a no-brainer, studies haven’t been able to clearly prove the benefits of multivitamins or other vitamins, according to Dr. Lilli Link on MindBodyGreen. She notes, however, some health situations require a vitamin boost. Expectant mothers require a certain amount of iron and folic acid to support their growing babies, while B12 provides a missing nutrient to people who follow a vegan diet. People who have been diagnosed as iron deficient could benefit from an iron supplement.
Is it possible to take too many?
Too much of a proposed good thing can result in seriously negative results. According to Healthgrades writer Beth W. Orenstein, headaches, blurred vision and nausea happen when you ingest too much Vitamin E, while stomach issues and skin, hair and sleep problems can occur with an overdose of Vitamin A. Just as too much sun is bad for your skin, so is taking too much Vitamin D. Also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” ingesting too much Vitamin D has a detrimental effect on your muscles and stomach and may leave your mind unclear as well as harm your appetite.
Instead of turning to vitamins and supplements for nutrition, Orenstein recommends eating a diet of vitamin- and mineral-rich food, the true key to improving and maintaining your health.
If you choose to take vitamins and supplements for health issues or to help support your healthy lifestyle, you must be careful which ones and how much of them you ingest. Seek the advice of a medical professional and research the brand of vitamins you plan to take as well as reported side effects before adopting a vitamin regimen.