Should I Consider Taking Supplements Like Vitamins or Herbal Medicines?
Ed Emde, Pharmacist
A balanced, high-quality diet of fresh fruits, vegetables and protein is enough to deliver the vitamins and mineral nutrients the body needs. However, other factors can help determine the need for supplementation. Some people have a high caloric or processed food intake and are not including sufficient nutrients in their diet such as absorbable forms of magnesium, calcium, potassium and vitamins A, C and E. Food sensitivities, food allergies and lactose intolerance can also limit nutrient intake. Individuals on restrictive diets should supplement with the vitamins and minerals they are not consuming from foods.
Vegetarian and vegan diet followers may need to take extra vitamin B12, as this is found only in animal products. If your eating preferences do not include meat, dairy or other animal products, you may need supplements with extra zinc, iron, calcium and vitamin D3.
It is not uncommon for patients over 50 years of age to supplement with vitamin B12 due to the decreased ability to absorb nutrients from foods. Older adults, people with dark skin and individuals who get insufficient exposure to sunlight should consume extra vitamin D3 from fortified foods or supplements. Vitamin D3 appears to offer a protective effect against cancer, although the exact mechanism of action is not known. Low vitamin D levels have also been associated with an increased risk of heart attacks.
Omega-3 fatty acids are the most frequently recommended supplement today due to their positive effects on high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and triglyceride levels and decrease inflammation and blood pressure symptoms. They also increase brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) and appear to be beneficial for memory.
If you are not consuming the best-quality food available or have other underlying health conditions, you may be deficient in the proper nutrients to maintain optimal health. Taking supplements can help with this. Your Good Neighbor Pharmacy pharmacist can help you determine which supplements would be most beneficial.
The views and opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation. The content is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, prescribe or treat any health condition and should not be used as a substitute for consulting with your health professional.
March 1, 2019