Vitamin and Mineral Supplements: Are they safe to take?

Are supplements safe to take?  Should you then take supplements?  Is more better?  Or could you be making yourself sick?

I do support taking certain supplements, because I know that there are issues with soil nutrient depletion and long transport times (which all depletes nutrients from fruits and vegetables).  

So what do we do?  Well, make informed choices.  

Also, there are supplements and then there are supplements.

There are supplements such as multiminerals, vitamins, omega-3’s and specific minerals. And then there are supplements that claim certain health benefits (such as supplements for weight loss, hair growth or thyroid support).

How do we ensure we get the best? And not just waste our hard-earned money?

The supplements industry is not regulated

Unlike medicine, supplements are not regulated.  

This means that there are no regulations that manufacturers have to comply with (like listing all the ingredients and the quantity of the ingredients).  

Some supplements may contain more than they claim, and others may also include contaminants, which can be toxic.  

An investigation found that four out of five bottles of commercial herbal supplements bought from major retailers (GNC, Walgreens, Target, and Walmart) did not contain the herbs listed on their labels and were adulterated, often containing inexpensive fillers like powdered rice and houseplants. (4)

And looking at weight-loss supplements, more than half of a sampling of 160 weight-loss supplements that were claimed to be “100% natural” were tainted with drugs, including Prozac and Viagra. Diuretic drugs, associated with rapid water loss, were also common contaminants. (4}

Therefore, do your research.  Make sure you purchase high-quality supplements from a trusted manufacturer.  

Be careful of iodine supplements

You could be making yourself worse if you take iodine supplements and you don’t know why your thyroid is underactive.  

The thyroid gland needs iodine to make thyroid hormones.  But if you have the autoimmune thyroid disease Hashimoto’s, you could actually be adding fuel to the fire if you take iodine supplements.  You could be worsening the autoimmune attack on your thyroid gland.  

Taking iodine when you have an underactive thyroid is a very controversial topic in the thyroid community.  Do your research, speak to your doctor, and make sure you know the root cause of your underactive thyroid before you take iodine supplements. 

Get tested

Some supplements can be very detrimental to your health if you unknowingly take to much.  

For example, vitamin D and iron.  

It is very important that you consult with your doctor and get the blood labs done before you start supplementing with vitamin D and iron.  

Food first, supplements second

Research have shown that some supplements may actually be making you sick compared to eating the actual food.  

For example, folate.  A study showed that high folate intake from food sources is associated with a reduced risk of esophageal cancer (1), while supplemental intake of folate actually increased the risk high intake of folic acid from supplements was associated with a significantly elevated risk of Barrett’s esophagus with dysplasia (1).

Another example, vitamin C.  A study showed that obtaining vitamin C from food sources (such as carrots and citrus), are associated with decreased odds of urinary tract infections in men.  But those who took supplemental vitamin C, got worse (2).  

Another example, green tea, which has been touted with its weight loss benefits.  Drink green tea, but avoid the supplements.  There is no longer any doubt that high doses of green tea supplements “poses a real and growing risk to liver health”.  (3)

Be careful of doctors selling their own line of supplements

I believe there is a conflict of interest between doctors who recommend a certain plan of action (that includes a huge amount of supplements) and then recommend their own branded line of supplements.

Very convenient, right?

Hmmm, no. It really should be about what is best for the patient, not what is best for the doctor’s bank account.

What I take

Yes, I do take supplements, and quite a lot every day. I take a high-quality multivitamin and multimineral, selenium, omega-3, vitamin C, iron and vitamin D (under supervision of my doctor and regular blood testing), and a mega vitamin B.

I research the manufacturer (as far as possible) and do my research on the risks and benefits.

Adele du Rand

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