Nowadays, vitamin and mineral supplements are everywhere. Bottles
line the shelves at the supermarket, online blogs promote the latest formulas
and health advocates push them as a crucial part of a well-rounded health and
While it can be tempting to just do a little research on
your own and run out to grab supplements you think you need, doing so without
consulting a professional first can be dangerous. Although most supplements are
over-the-counter and considered “safe,” it’s not correct to assume they can’t
All of this is not to say that supplements are bad. In many
cases, they can help transform people’s health. However, it’s extremely
important that you are buying supplements after you become well-informed
through research and conversations with your primary care physician.
Common misconceptions about supplements
One of the biggest dangers surrounding supplements is
ignorance about their effects, proper dosages and drug interactions. There are
a lot of misconceptions surrounding supplements that can be downright
dangerous. It’s important to clear up these misunderstandings and promote the
proper and safe use of supplements.
cannot interfere with medication.
Many people mistakenly believe that because many supplements
are natural or because they contain compounds found in the body, they won’t
interact with medications. However, many vitamins and nonvitamin supplements
have been known to interfere with both prescription and over-the-counter medications,
potentially causing harmful side effects.
They can also potentially reduce the effects of your
medication, which can be extremely dangerous if your medication is necessary
for your health or wellbeing. Just a few of the common supplements that can
potentially interfere with medication include St. John’s wart, vitamin D,
vitamin E, garlic and fish oil.
can’t overdose on supplements.
There is truth to the idea that you can have too much of a good thing, and supplements are included in
this. While you might think it’s impossible to overdose on something that
occurs naturally in our bodies (or in nature), taking more than the recommended
dose for some supplements can cause vomiting and diarrhea, as well as much more
severe health issues over time. Some of the most common vitamin supplements
that can build up to toxic levels include vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and
Supplements are regulated like other medications.
A lot of people think that, since supplements act like
medication, they are as closely regulated as medication is. However, this is
not the case. In many markets, nutritional supplements are not regulated much
at all and don’t require extensive testing and research to be sold. This allows
low-quality supplement companies to put false claims on their packaging to mislead
customers. You should always be sure you are buying your supplements from a
reputable brand that provides proof of its own research and testing.
Everyone should take supplements.
The health market can sometimes make it seem like people who
don’t take supplements are unhealthy, but that’s not always the case. Many
times, people take supplements erroneously and don’t truly need them.
Multivitamins and nutritional supplements, in particular,
are not always necessary if you are eating a well-balanced diet. Ideally, you
will get all your vitamins and minerals from your meals each day.
However, you may actually need supplements if you have
dietary restrictions, if you are experiencing a known deficiency or if you have
another health condition that could be alleviated through supplement use.
The importance of consulting a professional
All of the above-mentioned misconceptions can easily be
cleared up by speaking with your doctor about vitamins and supplements. Even if
you’re hoping to avoid prescription medication and take an all-natural approach
to your health, you should still visit a physician before taking any kind of
Having studied medicines, vitamins and chemicals extensively,
your doctor will have the breadth of expertise necessary to know which
supplements and medications cannot be taken together, which supplements can
harm you if taken in excess and which are truly necessary for your health. By
discussing supplements with your doctor, you can mitigate unnecessary health
problems caused by bad interactions or overdoses.
Doctors also usually know which supplement brands are most reputable
and can recommend one or two to you. Using physician-approved supplements helps
ensure that you’re taking supplements made with quality ingredients that will
actually do what they are supposed to do.
Most importantly, your doctor will be able to explain the
reason you should be taking the supplements. When you have this knowledge, you
will be able to make much more informed and safe choices about your health in
You don’t need to be afraid to take supplements, nor should
you avoid them entirely. However, you should always turn to a licensed
professional for advice before buying and taking supplements to protect your