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Dietary supplements: Sorting out the science - Harvard Health

When Buying Supplements

  • Consider only single-ingredient supplements. Multi-ingredient supplements make it hard to identify which substance is having an effect and they are more likely to be adulterated with banned drugs.
  • Tell your doctor about any supplement you take, so they can check it will interact with any of the medicines you're on.

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Dietary supplements: Sorting out the science - Harvard Health

Dietary supplements: Sorting out the science - Harvard Health

https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/dietary-supplements-sorting-out-the-science

health.harvard.edu

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Key Ideas

Research Findings On Supplements

  • Pharmaceuticals undergo extensive testing to prove they're effective and safe before they can be sold, but dietary supplements can be sold without proof of claims, effectiveness or safety.
  • Daily multivitamin consumption does not lower heart disease risk.
  • The FDA has found more than 500 supplements adulterated with pharmaceuticals or closely related compounds. Those can cause unwanted side effects and may be especially risky when taken with heart drugs or other prescription medications.

Supplements And Doctor Prescriptions

Because of the potential risks and unclear benefits of supplements, most doctors advise against them. However, doctors often recommend specific vitamin and mineral supplements to their patients, such as calcium and vitamin D to prevent osteoporosis and iron for people with iron deficiency.

When Buying Supplements

  • Consider only single-ingredient supplements. Multi-ingredient supplements make it hard to identify which substance is having an effect and they are more likely to be adulterated with banned drugs.
  • Tell your doctor about any supplement you take, so they can check it will interact with any of the medicines you're on.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

The Reality Behind Supplements

Studies demonstrate that multivitamins don't improve outcomes on a number of health measures, from staving off cognitive decline to preventing cardiovascular disease and cancer. The health b...

Beware Of Supplements’ Claims

In the US, supplements are regulated like food — and not drugs — under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, pill makers can basically put whatever claims they want on their bottles.

One analysis of supplement websites found 81 percent made at least one health claim — and more than half of those promised to treat, prevent, diagnose, or cure specific diseases. But a quick thought exercise will tell you that if these pills were truly panaceas, the FDA would have to treat them like drugs, not foods.

Resist The Urge For a Quick Fix

Back when undernutrition and vitamin deficiencies were widespread, supplements made some sense. But now one of the more urgent health problems is obesity and overnutrition while a growing body of studies shows that supplements’ effects are minimal or negative. 

Remember that you can’t know for sure what's really in your supplement bottle. And that the pills probably won't make you any healthier (unless you have a medically diagnosed deficiency). And they might even be hurting you.

An old concept

Beauty supplements aren’t a new concept. We've been able to buy hair and nail formulas for decades at the drugstore.

The supplements, from vitamin ingredients like biotin, zinc, folic ac...

The beauty supplement market

Although beauty supplements were a small part of the beauty industry previously, they are now becoming increasingly popular. The global beauty supplement market is growing rapidly and is expected to reach $6.8 billion by the end of 2024.

A survey of buyers revealed that supplement brands, not skin care or makeup brands, are most likely to be picked up by retailers, as

beauty supplements have become hope in a bottle.

Marketing supplements

The concept may not be new, but the techniques used to market supplements are.

In 2013, companies realized they could make use of social media to promote their supplements as youthful and fun.

One of the attractive qualities for supplements is a strong engagement on social media, with packaging designed to be super-shareable.

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Over-The-Counter Pills
Over-The-Counter Pills

About 25 percent of adults above 50 years of age try to improve their brain health and memory by taking supplements.

These pills claim to enhance memory, attention and foc...

Powdered Nutrients: The Facts
  • Most pills are a combination of vitamins and minerals, along with omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Scientific studies show the natural forms (like fish in case of omega-3 fatty acids) contain the real benefits, and popping supplements do not have the same effect.
  • Vitamin E supplements can help to a limited extent but high doses can increase the risk of a hemorrhagic stroke.
  • Vitamin B supplements are only to be used if one’s normal diet is not enough for them, or in case of a deficiency.
  • Taking time to do some exercise and having a plant-based diet is a better long term health solution.