With over 90,000 different products, supplements generate billions of dollars every year in the United States. But, are they worth the cost?
Many people take these supplements with the idea of a “healthy lifestyle” in mind. Sanford’s Director of Nutrition Services, Linda Bartholomay, says that this may have to do with people surfing the web for answers.
“There’s a lot of information out on the internet that people hear and they get ideas about something might be beneficial to take and so they seek out that particular vitamin mineral supplement or other supplement,” says Bartholomay.
But these supplements can be more harmful than we think.
“Supplements are not regulated by the FDA, so there’s very dangerous supplements out there on the internet that people are purchasing and they have no idea what’s in them,” says Bartholomay.
When it comes to mixing supplements with other prescriptions, be cautious. Bartholomay warns that this could put you even more at risk, “products that contain garcinia cambogia, which is a really popular supplement for weight loss, if people are on antidepressants that can actually be dangerous and interfere with your serotonin levels.”
Supplements also shouldn’t be used as a way to get nutrients. Instead, focus on a well rounded diet.
“Definitely taking supplements doesn’t replace a poor quality diet that’s for sure. There’s a lot of other factors in foods called antioxidants and other things, fiber, that kind of thing that you can’t replace in a supplement form.”
Bartholomay says the only way you can get those health benefits is having a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. However, not all supplements are bad. B-12, Multivitamins, Vitamin D and Omega-3’s are generally safe to take and are often recommended.
But, before taking any supplements, it’s advised to speak with a doctor or dietitian.
Bartholomay also encourages to take a good look at the labels. Since supplements are not regulated by the FDA, you should look for supplements that have been verified by a third party, like the USP verification. This indicates that someone has checked the supplements for both purity and accuracy.