Can I Take Multiple Supplements Without Adverse Effects on My Health?

Learn about potential benefits & risks associated with dietary supplements & how they may affect your health & well-being.

Can I Take Multiple Supplements Without Adverse Effects on My Health?

The combination of supplements does not normally interfere with their functioning and, in some cases, can be beneficial. For example, vitamin C helps the absorption of iron. However, certain supplements can interact with each other and cause harm. It is important to know what you are taking and how it may affect your health.

There are two types of vitamins: water-soluble and fat-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins are less likely to cause harm because they can be removed from the system with water, while fat-soluble vitamins are slowly absorbed and stored longer. Unless you are exercising all the time and using those fat stores, you are more likely to build up toxic levels. Unlike drugs, dietary supplements are not reviewed by the U.

S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed. It is up to manufacturers to ensure that their products do not contain contaminants or impurities, are properly labeled and contain what they claim. In other words, the regulation of dietary supplements is much less stringent than that of prescription or over-the-counter drugs.

Used correctly, some supplements can improve your health, but others may be ineffective or even harmful. For example, a systematic review that analyzes the possible effects of nutritional supplements on cardiovascular health suggests that few supplements help prevent heart disease; only omega-3 fatty acids and folic acid were effective. The same was true with dietary changes, except for a low-salt diet. Other research on self-reported dietary habits by a group of Americans linked daily doses of more than 1000 milligrams (mg) of calcium with a higher risk of death from cancer (although other studies suggest otherwise).

In addition, the data showed that people who consumed adequate amounts of magnesium, zinc, and vitamins A and K had a lower risk of death, but only if they got those nutrients from food rather than supplements. If you are considering taking dietary supplements, it is important to understand the potential benefits and risks associated with them. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) fact sheets can provide detailed information on the benefits and risks of individual vitamins and minerals, as well as herbal supplements. It is also important to talk to your health care team before adding any new supplement to your regimen if you are managing an underlying health condition (especially if you're taking medications) or are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Vitamin D is one supplement that has historically been popular. Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium in the body, which is critical for health and well-being as it offers the promise of protecting bones and preventing bone diseases such as osteoporosis. Vitamin D supplements are popular because it's difficult (if not impossible for some) to get enough from food. In addition, our bodies produce vitamin D when bare skin is exposed to direct sunlight, but the increase in time spent indoors and the widespread use of sunscreen have minimized the amount of vitamin D that many of us get from exposure to the sun.

However, vitamin D supplements are a sensitive topic. Sometimes guidelines and research may seem to contradict each other. The truth is that enthusiasm for vitamin D supplements is outpacing the evidence. And taking high doses isn't a good option; in healthy people, vitamin D blood levels greater than 100 nanograms per milliliter can cause additional calcium absorption and cause muscle pain, mood disorders, abdominal pain and kidney stones.

It can also increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. That said, vitamin D supplements may benefit certain people including those at risk of a deficiency such as people with darker skin living with certain health conditions and older adults according to MedlinePlus. The most recent consensus statement from the American Geriatrics Society specifically suggests that people over 65 can help reduce the risk of fractures and falls if they supplement their diet with at least 1000 IU of vitamin D per day in addition to taking calcium supplements and eating foods rich in vitamin D. Keep in mind that vitamin D supplements and medications can interact with each other; drugs that don't mix well with vitamin D include orlistat (Xenical Alli) a weight-loss medication several statins such as atorvastatin (Lipitor) thiazide diuretics (such as Hygroton Lozol and Microzide) and corticosteroids such as prednisone (Deltasone Rayos Sterapred).

St John's Wort is another popular supplement used as tea or in capsules with supposed benefits for depression attention deficit hyperactivity disorder menopausal symptoms insomnia kidney and lung problems obsessive-compulsive disorder wound healing and more according to the NIH. St John's Wort will be effective in treating mild depression; for example a review of short-term studies analyzed 27 clinical trials with about 3800 patients and suggested that the herbal remedy worked as well as certain antidepressants in reducing the symptoms of mild to moderate depression. However St John's Wort has been known to interact with medications; taking St John's Wort may reduce the effectiveness of other medications such as birth control pills chemotherapy drugs against HIV or AIDS medications to prevent organ rejection after a transplant according to the NIH. If you are considering taking St John's Wort learn about possible drug interactions and ask your doctor about the risks and benefits of this supplement as well as its comparison with other options.

Calcium is essential for a strong skeleton but too much can be harmful; more than 2500 mg per day for adults ages 19 to 50 and more than 2000 mg per day for adults over 50 can lead to adverse effects according to the NIH.

Ernie Levitt
Ernie Levitt

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