7 Facts to Know About Supplements before Taking Them


It has been estimated that around two out of three Americans take some kind of supplement. What is most concerning though is that most of them started taking them without researching about it or even checking something as simple as the supplement reviews.

Supplements, even if they are sold without a prescription, can significantly affect your body and things like blood clotting or liver function. So before you start taking any, you should get familiar with those seven facts.

Without further ado, let’s get to it.

Supplements don’t have to be tested

The main difference between prescription medication and a supplement is that the latter one doesn’t go through such rigorous testing the first one does. It’s because supplement manufacturers don’t have to prove the safety of the product before putting it on the market. All they need to prove is that is was produced in safe conditions, which makes a significant difference.

Since the effectiveness of the supplements is not verified, people don’t think about the fact that depending on their health condition, medication they are taking and toxic ingredients inside of it, some supplements can be very harmful or inappropriate for them.

Supplements won’t replace a healthy lifestyle

Before taking any supplement, you need to remember that it won’t replace healthy food, regular exercise or restful sleep, which are the basis of a healthy life. However, they can be used to fill out the gaps in nutrition, which will improve your health.

For example, folic oil can be useful for women who are either pregnant or are trying to get pregnant. Vitamin B12 is helpful for vegans and some vegetarians, just like vitamin C is good for colds.

Your Physician Should Know About Them

If you are planning on taking any kind of supplement, your doctor should always be informed about it, as some can be harmful to people with certain diseases, or can affect the functioning of prescription medications. Many people take hangover vitamins to reduce effect of hangovers, but you should always consult with your doctor before taking it.

For example, if you have diabetes, you shouldn’t take anything with niacin as it can elevate your blood sugar. Or if you have hemochromatosis, you should avoid vitamin C and iron.

Some Supplements Have Been Validated By Clinical Trial

Unfortunately, most of the studies regarding supplements have been short, small or poorly designed, which made the results generally inconsistent. However, some of the supplements have gone under strong, evidence-based research. Those include vitamin B6 and B12, plant sterols, tree nuts, niacin or omega-3 fatty acids.

An ideal study should be:

  • placebo-controlled – some subjects are taking the supplement while the rest takes the placebo
  • double-blind – neither of the parties (the researcher and the participants) should who is taking the placebo and who is taking the supplement
  • large enough to establish statistical significance

If you have any doubts about the supplement, always ask your doctor.

Some Supplements Have High-Risk Drug Interactions

Some of the supplements have the ability to interfere with the functioning of your medications. Some are known to increase the risk of liver injury. Others might affect your blood’s ability to clot – those include fish oil or vitamin K. Too much vitamin E can increase chances of uncontrolled bleeding or haemorrhage. Too much vitamin A can cause congenital disabilities.

Vitamin Supplements Can Carry Side Effects

Vitamin supplements can carry the same side effects as pharmaceutical drugs, starting with digestive upset or diarrhoea, and ending on interference in hormonal birth control.

Remember that if you experience any side effects after taking a supplement, you should report it to the FDA and your health provider.

The Label Is Not Always Trustworthy

When buying a supplement, you need to be careful, as it might not even have the ingredients that the label claims it does. Over the years, several products have been reported for having portions of components that didn’t match the label. In some cases, the products even contained contaminants or undisclosed prescription drugs.

Especially problematic are herbs, as they are very complicated chemically. Their composition varies, so it isn’t very easy to understand, which are the compounds that produce the proposed effects. That’s what makes herb preparations hard to standardize.


There’s still a lot that people don’t know about supplements, so you should be careful if you are planning to start taking them. Always talk to your doctor, as you never know what kind of effect it can have on your body, or on the medications you’re taking. Also keep in mind that if you are pregnant, you should avoid most of the supplements, same with children.

Always remember – supplements won’t replace a healthy lifestyle, so don’t neglect it just because of some pills. Last but not least, don’t trust everything that you see on the internet regarding the supplements, and in particular the testimonials of celebrities as it is most likely that they got paid for what they said.


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