Supplements are fairly common these days. There are supplements for everything, from standard vitamins and minerals right through to herbal supplements you’ve never heard of before. All of these supplements have one thing in common: they promise to fix you in some way.
Given the popularity of supplements, you probably have a couple of bottles in your own house right now. But do you really know what you might be taking? The standard advice is that prior to taking any over-the-counter medication or supplement, you should first consult with your doctor. Have you ever actually done that?
Probably not. As we can buy these products so easily, it’s tempting to think of them as relatively harmless and/or potentially beneficial. However, the common knowledge about supplements could do with a brush up– so here’s some supplemental knowledge (pun entirely intended) to ensure you always know everything about the items you’re taking.
DID YOU KNOW… Supplements Can Make You Unwell?
Even the most mundane-sounding of supplements has the ability to make you feel unwell. Magnesium can cause nausea in some people; Vitamin D can cause constipation; there are even common calcium side effects that you’ll need to be aware of prior to supplementing. Just because a supplement is marketed as being good for you doesn’t mean it can’t potentially make you unwell.
As a general rule, treat all supplements with the same rigor as you would apply to standard medicines. Talk to your doctor before beginning any supplements. Consult fact sheets and advice guides. Always take supplements with food. These suggestions may sound basic, but you’d be surprised at how many people ignore them, convinced supplements can do nothing but good!
DID YOU KNOW… Supplements Can Interact With Other Medications?
Supplements are not benign compounds; you have to be sure that any supplement you take is not going to interact with prescription medications. One of the most common interactions caused by supplements is when St. John’s Wort, which is often used to alleviate depressive symptoms, is taken in conjunction with prescribed antidepressants. The combined impact of both of these substances can lead to a condition called Serotonin Syndrome, which is potentially fatal.
The St. John’s Wort/antidepressants link is just one interaction; there are plenty of other medications and supplements that interact, potentially dangerously, with one another. This is why it’s essential you always check with your doctor prior to taking any supplements.
DID YOU KNOW… Supplements Don’t Have To Prove Their Efficacy To Be Sold?
It’s true; supplements don’t have to prove that they work to be sold in the US. Provided that supplements include a disclaimer, they can be sold with no proof that the supplement actually does anything. Try and buy supplements from companies who have undertaken their own testing; those that have done so will usually display information about this on their website.
Here’s the thing: there’s nothing inherently wrong with supplements. In fact, taken correctly and under medical supervision, they can greatly benefit your life. Just be careful, treat these items as medication, and take precautions wherever necessary.