Do you supplement

Do you supplement?

The majority of Americans take dietary supplements for such goals as to improve health, increase athletic performance, and to maintain energy. Some of these supplements are healthy. Some include unhealthy ingredients. Some have significant side effects. Some should not be taken with certain medication. The reason for this vagueness is that supplements are not regulated the same as other food products. See warning and advice below.

What are people taking? A 2015 CRN consumer survey  provided following results

98% of supplement users take vitamins and minerals
Top supplements in this category are:
Multivitamins at 78%
Vitamin D 32%
Calclum 24%
Vitamin B 18%
45% of supplement users take Specialty Supplements
Top supplements in this category are:
Omega-3/fatty acids 19%
Fiber 13%
Probiotics 12%
Glucosamine/Chondroitin 8%
Melatonin 8%
CoQ 10  8%
Digestive enzymes 5%

31% of Supplement Users take Herbals and Botaniclas
Top supplements in this category are:
Green Tea 12%
Cranberry 8%
Garlic 6%
Ginseng 6%
Enchinacea 5%
Ginko Biloba 5 %
25 % of Supplement users take sports nutrition or Weight management supplements
Top supplements in this category are:
Protein 14%
Energy Drinks 8%
Garcinia Cambogia 4%
Green Coffee 4%
Amino Acids 4%
Creatine 3 %

WebMD Offered the following advice:

*Look for trusted brands that have been around for some time.

There have been issues of dietary supplements being adulterated and contaminated with heavy metals, so choose a respected brand to be sure what is on the label is safe and exactly what is found in the product.

*Read the claims carefully. If they look too good to be true, they probably are.

Products promising to pack on 20 pounds of muscle in a week are not going to deliver because nothing can yield those kind of results.

*Check with your doctor before taking any dietary supplements.

More is not better. In fact, exceeding the Recommended Daily Allowances for some vitamins and minerals could be dangerous. Do not exceed 100% of the recommendation for vitamins or minerals because these supplements are in addition to the food you eat, and potential toxicities can occur.

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Warning

A Consumer Reports Study pointed out 15 ingredients in supplements that it says consumers should avoid because they have dangerous side effects such as rapid heartbeat, liver damage and seizures:

Aconite
Caffeine powder
Chaparral
Coltsfoot
Comfrey
Germander
Greater celandine
Green tea extract powder
Kava
Lobelia
Methylsynephrine
Pennyroyal oil
Red yeast rice
Usnic acid
Yohimbe

In the end, read up on the supplements you are interested in – from reputable sources, such as Web MD and Consumer Reports. And always discuss what you’re supplementing with your doctor. For more information, read What you Need to Know from The National Institutes of Health – Supplement Division.

About Dr. Robert Stevenson

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