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The Dangers and Benefits of Dietary Supplements

By Jackie Edwards:

In the United States, sixty-eight percent of adults take dietary supplements on a regular basis. While taking various vitamin and mineral supplements certainly can have a positive impact on the overall health of adults and children, with the myriad of different suppliers hawking their vitamins online, consumers need to be careful of where they buy their supplements and whether their purchase(s) will increase their vitamin and mineral intake or add unnecessary and possibly harmful chemicals to the body.  

Dangers of Vitamin Supplements

Vitamin supplements surprisingly are not heavily regulated by the FDA. The manufacturers of vitamins are not required to prove the safety or effectiveness of their products, and although federal law does limit the kinds of claims vitamin manufacturers are allowed to make, many release illegal and unverified information about their products for sales purposes. Although many dietary supplements marketed as healthy and natural alternatives to conventional medicine can be appealing to eco-conscious parents, the unregulated nature of the market means that these claims cannot always be trusted, and that somewhat sinister chemicals and other unnecessary additives may be found hiding in vitamins. Caution always should be taken when purchasing supplements, particularly when they are intended for the use of children.

Benefits of Good Quality Supplements

Taking a multivitamin or other specific vitamin or mineral supplement can have a positive impact on health, particularly when supplements are sourced from reputable suppliers who abstain from adding unhealthy and unnecessary ingredients to increase the effectiveness or affordability of their products. Vitamin supplements can help both adults and children meet the recommended intake of various nutrients when these needs are not being met by food alone. Most people are not consistent about eating a balanced diet with the right amount of each necessary nutrient, and kids can be notoriously picky, so taking a multivitamin in particular can help make sure that you are not falling short of any one vitamin, according to naturopathic doctor, Duffy McKay.

Finding Safe Vitamins

Because the supplement industry is so underregulated by the FDA, the best bet for finding a healthy vitamin or mineral supplement without any toxic chemicals is knowing what to look for and reading labels carefully. In many cases, this will mean skipping the convenience of online shopping, and taking a field trip to your local health food store to carefully pore through the vitamin section and choose the most natural and basic option. Do your research so you can make your selection with the knowledge of what ingredients to avoid at all costs.  Checking the “Percent Daily Value” on the nutrition label can help you ensure that you will be taking a dose adequate to fight off nutrient deficiency. Finally, make sure to avoid synthetic supplements. Although synthetic versions often are the cheaper and more readily available option, they are unlikely to work, and can sometimes do more harm than good.

While choosing the wrong vitamin and mineral supplements can either not work or have a negative effect, carefully selected supplements can benefit adults and children by fighting off vitamin deficiency and maintaining optimal health levels. Watch out for synthetic supplements and superfluous ingredients hiding in your and your child’s vitamins, and your vitamin game will be stronger than it’s ever been.

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