Are Dietary Supplements Safe to Take Every Day? - An Expert's Perspective

Most dietary supplements are generally safe to consume but there are exceptions. Learn more about the potential benefits and risks associated with taking dietary supplements from an expert's perspective.

Are Dietary Supplements Safe to Take Every Day? - An Expert's Perspective

Most supplements are generally safe to consume, but there are exceptions. Excessive calcium and vitamin D intake may increase the risk of kidney stones. However, other research has revealed the potential benefits of taking multivitamins. For instance, one study concluded that regular use of multivitamin and mineral supplements could help prevent micronutrient deficiencies that could otherwise cause health issues.

Scientific evidence suggests that taking a lot of supplements does not necessarily have real health benefits and, in some cases, could be harmful. Nevertheless, in moderation, some supplements may be recommended if those vitamins or minerals are lacking in your diet. People who consume a lot of nutrient-rich foods tend to live longer and healthier lives, so enjoy plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and consult a healthcare provider if you're not sure if taking supplements would be beneficial. Additionally, the data showed that people who had adequate amounts of magnesium, zinc, and vitamins A and K had a lower risk of death, but only if they got those nutrients from food rather than supplements. Vitamin D is difficult to obtain from food sources, and since the body produces it primarily through exposure to sunlight, many people are deficient in D, so some people need supplements, Fernstrom said.

In light of these and other studies, most experts agree that dietary supplements aren't all they were intended to be. These include glucosamine (for joint pain) and herbal supplements such as echinacea (immune health) and flaxseed oil (digestion). In other words, the regulation of dietary supplements is much less stringent than that of prescription or over-the-counter drugs. If you're considering taking St. John's wort, learn about possible drug interactions and ask your doctor about the risks and benefits of this supplement, as well as its comparison with other options.

People take these supplements to make sure they get enough essential nutrients and to maintain or improve their health. While supplement trends come and go, there are seven supplements that have historically been popular, and in all cases, experts recommend taking them with caution, if at all. Taking multivitamin supplements every day can act as a small insurance policy, said David Levitsky, a professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell University. It's a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider about the supplements you take on a regular basis, Kitchin said, especially if you have a health problem, dietary restriction or are taking any type of medication. In addition, calcium supplements are not only found in pills or chewable products but are also added to products such as orange juice and milk-like liquids such as almond milks to increase calcium intake in a tasty way. Because supplements are regulated as foods rather than drugs, the FDA does not evaluate the quality of supplements or evaluate their effects on the body.

Used correctly, some supplements can improve your health but others may be ineffective or even harmful. Of the supplements that aren't derived from vitamins and minerals, Hopp says fish oil probably has the most scientific evidence to support its use. Vitamin D supplements are popular because it's difficult (if not impossible for some) to get enough from food. Previous research suggested that men who took vitamin E supplements may have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer. In conclusion, dietary supplements can be beneficial when taken in moderation and with caution. It is important to consult with your healthcare provider before taking any supplement to ensure it is safe for you to take.

Additionally, it is important to remember that dietary supplements should not replace a healthy diet full of nutrient-rich foods.