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  • Nutrition & Supplements

    Vitamins and dietary supplements can contain minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, enzymes and many other ingredients.  Some dietary supplements can improve overall health and help manage some health conditions.

    • Calcium and vitamin D help keep bones strong and reduce bone loss.
    • Folic acid decreases the risk of certain birth defects
    • Omega-3-fatty acids from fish oil might help some people with heart disease.
    • A combination of vitamins C & E, zinc, copper, lutein may help slow down vision loss in people with age-related macular degeneration.

     

    Safety and Risk

    Many supplements contain active ingredients that can have strong effects in the body. Always be alert to the possibility of a bad reaction, especially when taking a new product.

    You are most likely to have side effects from dietary supplements if you take them at high doses or instead of prescribed medicines, or if you take many different supplements. Some supplements can increase the risk of bleeding or, if taken before surgery, can change your response to anesthesia. Supplements can also interact with some medicines giving problems;

    • Vitamin K can reduce the ability of the blood thinner warfarin to prevent blood from clotting.
    • St. John’s wort can speed the breakdown of many medicines reducing their usefulness (eg antidepressants, birth control pills, heart medications, anti-HIV medications, and transplant drugs)
    • Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E might reduce effectiveness of some types of medical cancer treatment.

    Taking more supplement than you need not only costs more, but might also increase side effects risk.  Be cautious about taking dietary supplements if you are pregnant or nursing.

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