We already know that the vast majority of people on Earth do not eat properly enough to acquire all the vitamins they need for optimum health. Some people do not have access to enough nutritional food sources, while others may eat well but their bodies are unable to absorb all the nutrients. Whichever your nutritional scenario, are vitamin supplements right for you?
The Vitamin Biz
According to Healthline.com, about half of all Americans take mutivitamins. If you had to guess how many American adults take vitamin, mineral, and herbal supplements, you would be correct if you answered “more than two-thirds.” That’s the figure that was reported by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN). In Australia, approximately seven out of 10 adults take some dietary supplement as well.
A report in 2015 estimated that Americans spent over $20 billion on vitamins and herbal supplements. Clearly, more than a few people think (or can prove) they are effective. In fact, the global dietary supplement market continues to grow and is expected to reap over $270 billion worldwide (per year) by 2024.
The Vitamin Buzz
There are so many varying opinions on whether taking vitamin supplements are worthwhile. Some doctors suggest supplementation to patients that appear deficient in particular nutrients. Other health experts recommend taking vitamins to help prevent future negative health issues. Then, there are professors and researchers who remark that there isn’t much evidence to suggest multivitamins are effective at all.
Proceed with Caution
If you and/or your health care provider decide that supplementation may be beneficial for you, there are certain precautions you may want to heed. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) isn’t authorized to regulate dietary supplements in the U.S. That means that manufacturers and distributors are responsible for overseeing effectiveness and safety of their products. It can be tricky to determine which brands to trust.
Here are some tips for choosing supplements safely:
- Purchase products manufactured in the U.S. Sometimes they are only distributed through an American city or company, but manufactured in another country. Check the label.
- Check to see if there’s an expiration date.
- Some vitamins, minerals, and herbs are toxic and dangerous if taken in too large a quantity. Find out the proper dosage before taking a “mega” vitamin.
- Just because vitamins (from food or supplements) are necessary and contribute to your good health, it doesn’t mean supplements won’t have side effects. Speak with your health practitioner and/or educate yourself on particular vitamins, minerals, and herbs; sometimes you may not need more than you’re already getting from your diet.
Pills or Patch?
Again, just as the advice about taking supplements is nebulous, so is the form in which one chooses to take them. Many bariatric surgery patients question the efficacy of “patch” vitamin supplementation because pills can be difficult to swallow.
Some express doubt about the effectiveness of a patch. They say skin is a sealant against water-soluble elements (some vitamins)—meaning the supplement won’t really penetrate the skin to get into the bloodstream anyway. Others believe the skin is a better vehicle for absorption than a pill trying to traverse through the stomach, kidney, and intestines.
The only way to see if supplements (taken safely) are effective is by how a patient feels and the results of medical tests. Your best bet for optimum health, aside from supplements, will be a nutritious diet along with daily exercise and good rest. Check out Get Thrive and our Newsletter for more articles and information on positive and beneficial health practices.