Supplement and Vitamin Factors to Consider
Dietary supplementation has increased in consumerism.
Many individuals prefer natural and preventive measures to address their health concerns as opposed to the Western medicine approach of prescriptions. With the increase in depression, anxiety, fatigue, sleeplessness and gastrointestinal issues due to the changes in the diet, many opt for natural or supplemental treatment for their concerns. Many of these symptoms may actually be caused by a deficiency in a vitamin, mineral or supplement, leading to a resolution of symptoms after starting supplementation.
It is not unreasonable to try a naturopathic approach of treating vague and nonthreatening symptoms with vitamin supplementation.
In fact, some symptoms may be resolved more easily than others. With the increase in popularity of supplementation, there has been a rise in the question as to whether or not individuals are getting supplements they do not need or are even ingesting supplements that may be causing harm.
The first thing to consider when starting a supplement is to know its exact ingredients.
Some supplements may contain gluten, dairy or other ingredients that the consumer may not tolerate.
It is important to look for “Non-GMO” label, as well as a “dairy free” or “gluten free” statement. Many supplements may have other vitamins and minerals in combination with the main labeled ingredient. Take note of any inactive ingredients or fillers within the supplement. Make sure that the supplement has been tested for purity and quality. These supplements will usually have the GMP label, explaining that the supplement has been approved for “Good Manufacturing Practice.” It is also important to understand what the supplement is used for and any side effects that may result from adding it to your diet.
Commonly Used Supplements
The addition of b vitamins has been associated with significant benefits, from improving mood, energy and even facilitating weight loss.
Fish oil is a potent anti-inflammatory agent, especially in heart disease. Vitamin c is not only a beneficial supplement for immunity, but has long been used as an agent to protect against aging. There are certain vitamins that need to be taken during pregnancy and those that should only be taken in small amounts while pregnant. This is why we have specific prenatal vitamins for those pregnant women or those who are trying to get pregnant. When starting a weight loss plan, I frequently recommend certain supplementation to support the metabolism, immunity and hair growth, as these may be compromised when losing weight.
Can Supplements Be Harmful?
There are certain supplements that can be taken in excess and lead to toxicity if accidentally overdosed.
Patients in my clinic come in with bags of supplements they have been taking for years, for multiple issues. Each supplement may have some of a specific vitamin, particularly vitamins A D E or K, which can do harm when taken excessively. These vitamins are not water soluble, but fat soluble, which means that when taken in high amounts, they will not be excreted in the urine, but will be stored in fat. When taken as a supplement, these vitamins should be monitored by occasional blood tests, or when an examiner suspects over ingestion.
Additionally, iron can be taken in excess and may lead to toxicity when taken unnecessarily. Those who are known to have had an iron deficiency should only take iron. This is common in menstruating women, patients with a problem in iron absorption from the gut, or those who are not getting enough iron in a regular diet. Otherwise, excess iron intake may be harmful to the liver and/or other organs.
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