Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[News item] Should You Take Dietary Supplements? (with links to resources)

Someone I know takes a multitude of supplements. As this article points out, it is a good idea to get objective medical advice on which supplements may be helpful.  This person started taking Vitamin D on the advice of a friend to stop back pain. It did work. And to to be honest, I was very skeptical. After a year, he told his doctor, and the doctor said that it probably did help. However, I do think that overall if folks ate right that supplements would be unnecessary.
Also, as the article points out, supplements cannot reverse medical conditions or replace other therapies.
Looking for more information on supplements? Check out the resources below, after the article summary.

A Look at Vitamins, Minerals, Botanicals and More

From the NIH August 2013 Newsletter

Illustration of a woman shopping for dietary supplements.

When you reach for that bottle of vitamin C or fish oil pills, you might wonder how well they’ll work and if they’re safe. The first thing to ask yourself is whether you need them in the first place.

More than half of all Americans take one or more dietary supplements daily or on occasion. Supplements are available without a prescription and usually come in pill, powder or liquid form. Common supplements include vitamins, minerals and herbal products, also known as botanicals.

People take these supplements to make sure they get enough essential nutrients and to maintain or improve their health. But not everyone needs to take supplements.

“It’s possible to get all of the nutrients you need by eating a variety of healthy foods, so you don’t have to take one,” says Carol Haggans, a registered dietitian and consultant to NIH. “But supplements can be useful for filling in gaps in your diet.”

Some supplements may have side effects, especially if taken before surgery or with other medicines. Supplements can also cause problems if you have certain health conditions. And the effects of many supplements haven’t been tested in children, pregnant women and other groups. So talk with your health care provider if you’re thinking about taking dietary supplements.

Read the entire article here

Resources

  • Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets (US National Institutes of Health)
    with links to decision making aids and consumer protection information
  • Dietary Supplement Label Database (US National Institutes of Health)
    ingredients of thousands of dietary supplements with information from the label on dosage, health claims and cautions
  • Drugs, Supplements, and Herbal Information (US National Library of Medicine)
    browse dietary supplements and herbal remedies to learn about their effectiveness, usual dosage, and drug interactions.
  • Longwood Herbal Task Force
    This site has in-depth monographs about herbal products and supplements written by health professionals and students. It provides clinical information summaries, patient fact sheets, and information about toxicity and interactions as well as relevant links. The task force is a cooperative effort of the staff and students from Children’s Hospital, the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

 

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August 6, 2013 - Posted by | Health Education (General Public), Nutrition | , , , , ,

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