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Health & Medicine

Do Health Supplements Work? What You Should Know Before You Try

— June 23, 2022

Supplements may be an appropriate addition to your health regimen, depending on your health needs.

Many people take a multivitamin every day, believing it will improve their health. But does it help, and are they safe? Should we be taking other supplements?

Supplements are very popular these days, with everyone from doctors to celebrities touting their health benefits. In the midst of so much information, it can sometimes be difficult to tell what is helpful and what is not. This post will explain what supplements are, what they’re commonly used for, and a few general things you need to know. If you plan to start a regimen or just want to learn more about supplements, here is everything you need to know.

The Truth About Supplements

The first thing to note about supplements is this very important fact — they aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has strict standards for approving medicines before they can be marketed or sold, but guidelines aren’t the same for dietary supplements. Because supplements aren’t regulated like other drugs, there’s no guarantee they will work — or be safe. If they interact with your medications or health conditions, supplements can cause serious health problems.

Even if a supplement is well-known and widely used, like fiber, that doesn’t mean it is safe for you. You should always consult your doctor prior to starting any new supplement regimen.

Multivitamins Don’t Replace a Healthy Diet

Even without regulations, the supplement industry is still wildly popular. About half of American adults regularly take at least one dietary supplement. Whether they’re pills, liquids, or powders, they can contain a variety of ingredients, including:

  • vitamins
  • herbs
  • minerals
  • fiber
  • enzymes
  • amino acids
  • proteins
  • and more

The most popular supplement is the multivitamin, which accounts for about 40% of sales. A multivitamin is thought to provide you with multiple essential vitamins to fill in nutritional gaps.

Despite these claims, the healthiest way to ensure your body receives the nutrients required is to regularly consume a varied, healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables. A balanced diet may eliminate the need for a multivitamin.

A Supplement for Everything

Some people take supplements to maintain their health or prevent illness. In contrast, others take them to treat specific conditions already developed. Aside from multivitamins that provide general health support, many other targeted supplements are available.

Supplements for Prevention

Eating Fish Isn't Always Healthy, Study Finds
Photo by Alexander Zvir from Pexels

There are a variety of supplements that claim to help preserve health and prevent disease. Among the most popular are fish oil for cardiovascular health and fiber for digestive health. Research supports that vitamin D, essential for absorbing calcium, is among the most critical supplements for adults. This is because it’s so difficult to obtain naturally.

Supplements for Treatment

A wide variety of supplements are also available to treat specific conditions. They claim multiple benefits, such as weight loss, joint pain relief, and inflammation reduction. A few of the most popular include collagen for smoother skin and reduced joint pain, St. John’s Wort for depression, and Ginkgo biloba for memory problems. Muscle-building supplements such as micronized creatine monohydrate are popular among athletes.

Do Your Research

As mentioned earlier, the FDA doesn’t regulate supplements in the same way it does drugs. So, before taking any supplements, it’s good to do some research. Some of these supplements may be helpful for certain people, but you should keep in mind that there’s no magic pill that can replace a healthy diet, regular exercise, stress reduction, and visits to your doctor.

The Bottom Line

Supplements may be an appropriate addition to your health regimen, depending on your health needs. But, as with multivitamins, they should never replace a healthy diet and regular exercise. Make sure you research any product you would like to take. Read reviews and studies to find a supplement brand with a high-quality, well-supported formula that will yield the results you want. And as always, consult your physician to make sure it’s a safe and wise choice for you.

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