The Rise And Rise Of Supplements
With fast foods, processed foods, and GMO products, the typical American diet is not the healthiest. Studies continue to show the damaging effects of current eating habits. Poor diets and expensive fresh foods have led to the rise in supplements that attempt to compensate for the lack of vitamins and minerals. More and more Americans are aware that there is a problem, and 4 in 5 adults now take supplements. While most are safe, some supplement combinations can be harmful.
Why they’re so appealing
Dietary supplements come in liquid, tablet, gel or powder form and contain vitamins, minerals and enzymes. What makes supplements appealing are accessibility, potency, convenience, and ease of use. Anyone using supplements should have a potent dose of the vitamin or mineral, which may help with health and wellness. Furthermore, the supplement industry is not FDA-regulated. So from an economic standpoint, this has paved the way for countless brands over the years.
The most significant risk with supplementation
All supplements carry a risk. First, a supplement is not a replacement for a healthy diet. A healthy diet is key to maximizing the effectiveness of the supplement. Secondly, the supplement industry is unregulated and anyone taking supplements should consult with a physician prior to starting a new regimen. While the risk of taking a supplement is relatively low, combining supplements with prescription medication can potentially have adverse side effects.
Magnesium and potassium
Both magnesium and potassium are from a group of minerals found in the earth and are beneficial for nerve and muscle health. Each are needed in large amounts and are commonly called macrominerals. The body needs some time to absorb each mineral, so the effectiveness decreases when taken together. The same goes for calcium and magnesium. Combining multiple minerals reduces the effects of all. Take mineral supplements at least 2 hours apart for the best results.
Copper and zinc
These supplements are also part of the mineral family. Unlike magnesium and potassium, the body needs only trace amounts of copper and zinc. Zinc is essential for immune function, healing, and sexual health. Copper, on the other hand, helps with iron absorption and metabolism. When taken simultaneously, zinc cancels out the effects of copper and can cause a copper deficiency.
CoQ10 and diabetes medication
Here’s a surprising yet harmful combination. Using CoQ10 while treating diabetes can impact your blood pressure and blood sugar. Coenzyme Q10 is present in almost every cell and helps generate energy on that cellular level. The enzyme also helps with heart health, diabetes, and even some cancers. When combined with diabetes medication, the result could be hypoglycemia and low blood pressure.
Calcium and vitamin D
Vitamin D and calcium work well together and vitamin D plays a big role in helping the body absorb more calcium. There are many benefits to extra vitamin D such as boosting the immune system, helping with joint pain and improving bone health. Calcium has proven to improve heart health, diabetes and high blood pressure. The danger of combination supplements is unknowingly taking too much calcium as this ingredient is found in many combination products. Too much calcium can lead to hypercalcemia which can cause a host of serious problems ranging from kidney stones to heart and cognitive malfunction.
Consider a multivitamin instead
Now, suggesting to switch to a multivitamin sounds contradictory. Isn’t there a risk with using one pill with all these harmful combinations? Multivitamins have a distinct advantage over individual supplements. Taking a separate supplement may be too potent for other supplements or medications. These supplements have the exact dose that would avoid deadly combinations. Furthermore, compound pharmacies can create multivitamins with the precise mix of nutrients for a safe, adequate amount.
Supplements aren’t magic pills
The very definition of the word is to enhance what’s already there. Taking a supplement should not replace a healthy diet. Healthy diets with fruits and leafy green vegetables can provide the daily recommended dose of vitamins and minerals. Even with a healthy diet, avoid the supplements mentioned to remove the risk of harmful interactions. The best course of action is to speak with a neighborhood pharmacist prior to starting any new supplement or medication.