- Do you need to take supplements?
- Which ones?
- What do they do?
- Can they help?
These are the questions as dietitians we get asked daily. People take a variety of supplements sometimes not even knowing why they do, but most will say it is to improve their health. However, not everyone needs to take supplements.
Do you need to take supplements?
As dietitians we believe that food always comes first and it is possible to get all the nutrients you need by eating a variety of foods, however they can be useful for filling in the gaps when you cannot. However, they may have side effects, especially when taken before surgery or with other medications. They can also cause a problem if you have other health conditions.
Dietary supplements are regulated by the FDA as food, not drugs and many times after they enter the marketplace. Some companies also do not even notify the FDA when they produce and sell them. Recently it was found that Amazon was selling supplements that were fraudulent, therefore that is why we always tell our patients to purchase their supplements from a trusted company that follow strict quality standards. Here at Real You Nutrition we use Fullscript which is a company that follow the Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) which means their brand partners are third-party cGMP audited or have proof of standard operating procedures for clean, safe facilities. Their brand partners commit to label claims that are accurate and compliant with regulatory requirements and they test for ingredient validations and contaminants such as pesticides, heavy metals, and solvents.
What do they do?
The most popular supplements are multivitamins, calcium, vitamins B, C and D. Calcium makes up most of the structure of bone, and teeth and helps keep tissues strong and flexible. B vitamins are involved in every single metabolic process that occurs in the body, vitamin C is an antioxidant that prevents cell damage, and vitamin D helps absorb calcium, is needed for bone growth as well as reduces inflammation, modulates cell growth, neuromuscular and immune function and glucose metabolism. Iron is needed during pregnancy, breastfed babies need vitamin D, and fish oil is helpful for heart health.
Can they harm?
Some supplements can interact with medications such as vitamin K which can reduce blood thinners, while ginkgo biloba increases them. St. John’s Wort, which is used for depression, can make anti-depressants and birth control pills less effective. Some herbs such as black cohosh, cascara, chaparral, comfrey, ephedra or kava can be toxic to the liver. That is why it is important to consult with a professional such as a dietitian and physician to discuss whether you need a supplement, dosage, and possible interactions with medication you are already taking. Learning about the potential benefits and risks is imperative.
Can they help?
Some supplements can be beneficial to your health, particularly if you have a deficiency. They can help to decrease inflammation and cholesterol, increase energy, and improve gut, hormone, and cardiovascular health. My favorite supplements are:
- Red Yeast Rice (Cholestene or Choleast)
- Kyolic Reserve (Cardiovascular and Immune support)
- Super Phytosterols Complex
- Magnesium Citrate (Constipation)
- Omega 3 (Anti-inflammatory and Heart Health)
- Pure Encapsulations ONE MVI (general health)
- Nordic Natural Promega 2000 (anti-inflammatory, heart health)
- Gaia Herbs Ashwaghanda 700 (Mind/Mood/Stress)
- Designs for Health Curcum-Evail 400 (Anti-inflammatory, Heart Health)
- Designs for Health Twice Daily Multivitamin (General Health)
- Theralogix Ovasitol Powder (Hormone Health)
- Klaire Labs Therbiotic Complete (Gut Health)
In conclusion, do you need to take supplements or not…. it’s up to you and your healthcare providers to decide on whether you could benefit from them, improve or cause risk to your health. And if you do decide to take them, do your due diligence and only buy them from reputable companies!