This past week Frontline aired an eye-opening documentary on dietary supplement safety in the United States. If you take vitamins, minerals, or any other type of supplements I highly encourage you to take an hour of your time and watch this video.
I get asked daily about dietary supplements – “what’s good for this”, “what’s bad for that”, “what can I take to _____”. I am always happy to discuss the use of supplements with my patients because it’s important they get factual information and have their questions answered. Yes, there are times when a vitamin or mineral supplement is beneficial, and in some cases necessary. For example, if someone has a nutrient deficiency that needs to be corrected, is unable to consume adequate amounts through food, or has issues with malabsorption. In general, a standard multivitamin with minerals for “insurance” is likely fine but anything outside of that really should be questioned. Why do you feel the need to take this? Can you get it from food? What’s the data behind the supplement?
Americans spend billions of dollars each year on supplements that are not regulated and may actually cause harm. I repeat: No one is regulating dietary supplements. More of a good thing is not always better. Did you know that high dose Vitamin E increases the risk of prostate cancer? This documentary also highlights many supplements contain foreign ingredients that are not on the label or they will contain less or more of the supplement than what the bottle claims. Or in the case of fish oil supplements, an alarming percentage of the supplements tested contained oxidized lipids which can actually be proinflammatory.
“It’s a dangerous thing to do, to go against what nature intends”