Are supplements good for you?

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What’s covered?

Many people have been taking supplements for decades, ranging from vitamin A to zinc. People flocked to local pharmacies in the 1940s to load up on these allegedly miraculous pills to improve their overall health and well-being — and they have never stopped ever since.

Hence, if you take a supplement every day, you are not alone. There's no shame in having supplements spill out of your medicine cabinet or off your bathroom countertop, especially if you take these supplements to treat your vitamin deficiency or lower your risk of developing specific ailments.

However, due to the rampant use of supplements, supplement recommendations may also be found everywhere, such as on ads, influencer marketing, and your neighbours, family, and friends. Because of this, it may be challenging to choose which supplement is ideal for you.

If you're looking for ideal supplements, you need to remember that although many supplements are unquestionably helpful to your health, the evidence varies significantly. Thus, it's critical to understand which may be helpful or detrimental for you.

We've compiled information detailing what you should know about dietary supplements to make things easier for you.

Supplements have many forms

"Whether in pill, powder, or liquid form, the goal of dietary supplements is often the same: to supplement your diet to get enough nutrients and enhance health," says Jeffrey Millstein, MD, of Penn Internal Medicine Woodbury Heights.

They include at least one nutritional component: herbs, minerals, vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, or botanicals. Some of the most popular supplements will be included in multivitamins (saving you from having to take a dozen pills every day), but they may also be purchased individually.

Furthermore, dietary supplements that are often used include:

  • Fish oil

  • Ginseng

  • Vitamin D

  • Green tea

  • Calcium

  • Echinacea

  • Garlic

  • Vitamin D

Some supplements are effective, but others aren't

There is a reason supplements are so popular: they can help you.

"In addition to a healthy diet, there is evidence that some supplements can benefit your overall well-being with little to no risk," adds Dr Millstein.

Moreover, some typical supplements that may be useful to your health include:

Folic acid

It may help to prevent birth abnormalities when pregnant women take it.


It has the potential to improve bone health.

Fish oil

It may help with heart health.


It may improve skin health and prevent vision loss caused by age-related macular degeneration.

Vitamin B12

It may aid in the health of nerve and blood cells, the production of DNA, and the prevention of anaemia.

Vitamin D

This vitamin may help to strengthen bones.

Vitamin A

It may delay visual loss caused by age-related macular degeneration.


It may help with jet lag.

Supplements in general

Despite the quantity of research done on supplements (the National Institutes of Health has spent more than $2.4 billion on vitamins and minerals since 1999), scientific data isn't entirely apparent.

Keep in mind that most studies indicate that multivitamins will not help you live longer, will not decrease cognitive decline, and will not reduce your risks of illness, such as diabetes, cancer, or heart disease.

"It's illegal for companies to claim that supplements will treat, diagnose, prevent or cure diseases," adds Dr Millstein. Furthermore, studies may be inaccurate since the products you purchase in shops or online may vary from those utilised in research.

Supplements are not always risk-free

In most cases, multivitamins are unlikely to pose any health risks. Still, it would help if you used caution before ingesting anything.

Dr Millstein explains, "Supplements may interact with other medications you're taking or pose risks if you have certain medical conditions, such as liver disease, or have surgery. Some supplements also haven't been tested in pregnant women, nursing mothers or children, and you may need extra precautions."

Moreover, nutritional supplement regulations are less rigid than those for prescription drugs. Some supplements may include dangerous ingredients that are not listed on the label. Certain goods are promoted as nutritional supplements but include prescription medicines not permitted in dietary supplements.

Some supplements that may be harmful


It may result in increased blood thinning.

St. John's wort

Some medications, including birth control and antidepressants, may become less effective.

Vitamin A and beta-carotene

It may increase smokers' risk of lung cancer.

Vitamin K

It may reduce the efficacy of blood thinners.

Talk to a doctor before using any supplements

"The most important thing to remember is to be smart when choosing a supplement," says Dr Millstein.

Because the effectiveness and safety of a supplement may vary based on your condition and health, your first step should be to discuss your options with your healthcare expert.

Furthermore, keep the following basic guidelines in mind while selecting a supplement:

  • Take supplements as directed on the box and as directed by the health professional.

  • Check the label for contents, drug interactions, and % daily value.

  • Extreme assertions like "completely safe" or "works better than (insert prescription medication)" should be disregarded.

  • Remember that "natural" does not necessarily indicate "safe."

  • Keep supplements well stored and out of children's reach.

Nothing beats the power of a healthy diet

Whatever your motive for taking supplements is, one thing is sure: they are not a replacement for a nutrient-dense, balanced diet.

"Supplements are meant to be supplementary — meaning they enhance benefits already provided by eating a well-rounded diet," explains Dr Millstein. Hence, supplements shouldn't be used in terms of actual food. However, never underestimate the power of a nutrient-dense salad over a pharmaceutical.

Is taking supplements risky?

Many dietary supplements include active ingredients that have a substantial biological impact on the body. This may make them risky in some conditions and harm or worsen your health. For example, the following actions might have catastrophic –even life-threatening– consequences.

  • Using vitamin and mineral supplements in conjunction with medications (whether prescription or over-the-counter)

  • Taking excessive amounts of some supplements, such as iron, vitamin D, or Vitamin A

  • Some supplements may have adverse effects before, during, and after surgery. As a result, tell your healthcare professional, including the pharmacist, about any supplements you're taking.

  • Combining certain supplements

  • Dietary supplements as a replacement for prescription medications

Finally, minerals and vitamins are required for the body to develop and function correctly. While most individuals get what they need by eating well, some need more help. This is where vitamins come in, providing your body with the assistance it needs to stay healthy.

To see our Vitamin D supplement, click here.

To see our Beta Carotene supplement, click here.

To see our Zinc supplement, click here.

For a full range of blood tests and medications, visit our Welzo Online Pharmacy Page. For more details, click here.

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