How to Make Sure You Take Supplements and Vitamins Safely

Whether or not taking multivitamins on a daily basis will help stave off disease isn’t certain, but many people still take them in order to boost or maintain their health. Others, however, take just one mineral or vitamin, like iron, for instance, to fill in the gaps left by their diets. But before you add a vitamin or supplement to your routine, you should definitely discuss it with your pharmacist, dietitian or doctor, and ask them the following questions:

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  • Will taking this vitamin or supplement help me? Should I be taking it to prevent disease or for a medical condition?
  • What research has been done on the supplement or vitamin, and what are its benefits?
  • What dosage should I take?
  • When and for how long should I take it?
  • Should I take it as powder, pill or liquid?
  • Which form of the vitamin is best suited for me?
  • Are there side effects?
  • What are the best brands of this vitamin or supplement in terms of safety and quality?
  • Can I take it with the other medication I already take? Should I avoid any particular foods?
  • Should I stop taking it if I’m going to have surgery?

You’ll find a wide range of supplements and vitamins in online pharmacy stores, and they come in a variety of forms, such as liquids, pills and powders. The products you choose will depend on how you prefer to take them, and how they work in your body. For instance, some are available in dry extract form only, such as pills or capsules. Others are more effective and work faster as a liquid. Some supplements come as pills because they may be dangerous or stop working when they come in contact with your stomach acid. Some people have trouble absorbing vitamins and minerals from a pill, or have a difficult time swallowing tablets and capsules, so they get liquid forms.

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Keep in mind that not all forms of a vitamin are the same. For instance, vitamin D supplements are available as either D2 and D3. There are also multiple types of vitamin E, so talk to your doctor about which one you need in particular.

Some supplements aren’t regulated by the TGA like most other drugs and foods are, so they might not get reviewed for efficacy and safety before they become available for sale. Having said that, do your own research and be careful when you’re shopping through online pharmacy stores.

Some other ways to make sure you’re healthy and safe include eating a balanced diet, such as fruits, veggies and whole grains so that you don’t have to take multivitamin supplements whatsoever. Talk to your dietician or doctor to check if you need any specific vitamins if you’re on a restricted diet. And even though these nutrients are important to our bodies, some can be damaging in high doses. For instance, avoid getting too much of vitamins K, E, D and A, as if they build up in your body they can turn toxic.

You should avoid taking supplements if you have some health conditions. They can prevent some medication from working, which is why I must repeat this again – talk to your doctor before you start taking vitamins and supplements. Some people who should avoid some supplements and vitamins include:

  • People who take heart medication, such as blood thinners, diuretics, aspirin, steroids, and drugs that turn down the immune system.
  • There’s always a chance for medication to not mix well with supplements, but the side-effects can be severe with the aforementioned drugs especially.
  • Breastfeeding or pregnant women should also avoid taking vitamins and supplements, as some of them can be dangerous for the baby.
  • There are daily prenatal vitamins that contain all the right types and doses of nutrients for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
  • People treated for cancer or who’ve had it in the past. Some supplements can make treatment for cancer less effective, or they can even help cancer cells grow.
  • People who are about to have surgery, as some vitamins and supplements may lead to excessive bleeding and other complications.

Also, keep in mind that supplements and vitamins don’t last forever, and you should take care of them to keep them working well. This includes storing them in a cool, dark and dry place. Avoid damp spots in your home like the bathroom. Further, make sure you keep them in a locked cabinet or on a high shelf, out of your kids’ reach.

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Some supplements and vitamins wear out in time, so regularly check your stash and throw away those past their expiration date. And before you buy the product, look for evidence about how well it works in scientific studies from reputable publications. Look for these studies in the NIH (National Institutes of Health) PubMed database, and the Office of Dietary Supplements.