The Truth About Dietary Supplements
Style Magazine Newswire | 1/11/2019, 10:38 a.m.
Turn on the TV and flip channels for a while or go on social media. Eventually, you’re going to come across some “breaking news” about a new formula or supplement “clinically proven” to normalize your blood sugar and reverse diabetes. Think about this for a moment—a cure for diabetes in a bottle? If it were only that simple. Yet, that’s what the companies that market such products want you to believe. The pitch is so great, you think to yourself, “It should work. It was clinically proven, right?” Wrong! The claims are nothing more than great marketing techniques used to gain your trust.
According to an updated position paper published by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, vitamin and mineral supplements may be beneficial for people who aren’t getting the essential vitamins and minerals, they need through their diet but do not help in preventing chronic disease such as diabetes.
What are Dietary Supplements?
Dietary supplements include such ingredients as vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids, and enzymes. You don’t need a prescription to buy dietary supplements. You can find supplements in forms such as tablets, capsules, soft gels, gel caps, powders, and liquids.
Vitamins are needed for normal growth and development of the body. Vitamins don’t provide energy, as some folks commonly believe, but they do help the body break down carbohydrates, protein, and fat and use them more efficiently. The body requires very small quantities of vitamins, but it cannot function properly without them.
There are two types of vitamins: water-soluble and fat-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins are those that are flushed away when we eliminate water from our bodies. Because they can’t be stored, you have to replace them in the body daily. The water-soluble vitamins are B and C.
However, you don’t lose fat-soluble vitamins every day. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the liver and fat tissue of the body and used as needed. But because you can’t flush them out easily, fat-soluble vitamins can be toxic if you take them in large quantities. Fat-soluble vitamins include A, D, E, and K.
The most popular dietary supplements are multivitamins, calcium and vitamins B, C, and D. Other common supplements include echinacea, fish oil, ginseng, glucosamine, garlic, St. John’s Wort, saw palmetto, ginkgo, and green tea.
What are the Benefits of Supplements?
There is no clear evidence that a person with diabetes gets any extra benefit from vitamins supplements unless she already has a vitamin or mineral deficiency. But there’s no harm in using a vitamin or mineral supplement as a nutritional backup. Some vitamin supplements can help assure you get enough of the essential nutrients your body needs to function. Just make sure you discuss it with your doctor or health-care provider first.
Are Dietary Supplements Safe?
The choice to use a dietary supplement can be a wise decision that provides health benefits. However, under certain circumstances, these products may be unnecessary for good health, or they may even create unexpected risks.
It is important to fully inform your doctor about any vitamins, minerals, herbals or any other supplements you are taking. Many supplements contain active ingredients that have strong biological effects, and they’re not always safe for every user. Other supplements may interact with prescription and over-the-counter medicines.
Some supplements can also have adverse effects before, during, and after surgery. You may be asked to stop taking supplements at least 2-3 weeks ahead of the procedure to avoid potentially dangerous supplement/drug interactions—such as changes in heart rate, blood pressure and increased bleeding – that could adversely affect the outcome of your surgery.
When searching for information about supplements on the internet, use noncommercial sites (e.g., the Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture) rather than depending on information from sellers. Remember the sellers want you to buy their product.
If claims sound too good to be true, they probably are: Be mindful of product claims such as “works better than [a prescription drug],” “totally safe,” or has “no side effects.”
Finally, be aware that the term “natural” doesn’t always mean “safe.”