Dietary supplements may seem like an easy way to get all the nutrients that you need but it’s not that simple. There are different factors that you have to consider before adding a supplement to your daily routine. More importantly, should you just forego the pills and fix your diet instead? Here’s what you need to know.
Dietary Supplements Aren’t Monitored Closely
Unlike medications and other health-related products, supplements aren’t monitored as closely by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). That means it’s unlikely that the products you see on the shelf have been tested to show that they are as effective as they say they are.
While manufacturers may conduct internal tests to confirm their ingredient list, there is no current system in place to guarantee that dietary supplements will improve your health.
The only exception in many cases is what the manufacturers are allowed to state on their labels. If you see a product that insists that it will improve certain conditions or that it works better than certain medications, it could be a cause for concern.
The Supplements Can Have Side Effects
Apart from not always being effective, some dietary supplements can have negative side effects. They may make chronic conditions worse or interact with your medications even if you’re taking them the way you’re supposed to.
For example, St. John’s wort supplements have been known to increase the rate at which other medications break down. That can cause issues with antidepressants and even birth control pills. Vitamin K can also interfere with how well blood thinners work.
There are further concerns if you take too many supplements or take them for too long. For example, too much calcium and Vitamin D can lead to kidney stones while too much Vitamin E can put you at risk for bleeding in the brain. High doses of beta carotene can cause trouble for smokers as it will increase your risk of developing lung cancer. Additionally, taking Vitamin B6 for more than a year may result in nerve damage that affects your movements.
Fixing Your Diet Might Be Better
Unlike a supplement, there are fewer concerns with tweaking your diet. In fact, most doctors prefer that people get their nutrients from a well-balanced diet instead of dietary supplements. If you add fresh vegetables and fruits while replacing highly processed foods with lean proteins, healthy fats, as well as whole grains, your health will improve.
There’s an emphasis on eating fruits and vegetables as is because it’s an excellent way to get more fiber in the diet. Additionally, you don’t