Most people self prescribe supplements, taking them because they heard from friends that they take it too, or because they saw an advertisement about how it can make their hair longer or skin softer. Everyone is different, what works for a friend, may not necessarily work for you. Before deciding to take a supplement or not, you need to first consult with your doctor to see if you really need the supplement.
More is not better when it comes to taking vitamins or mineral supplements. Vitamins and minerals taken in excess work against you not for you. Here is a few examples:
- Too much vitamin A can cause hair loss. (10,000 IU including food and supplements)
- Too much calcium can cause kidney damage and high blood calcium levels. (2500 mg)
- Excessive beta carotene supplements increase the risk of lung cancer and mortality.
- Excessive vitamin E supplements increase the risk of prostate cancer among healthy men. (1,000 mg)
- Too much vitamin C or zinc could cause nausea, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.
- Too much selenium could lead to problems including hair loss, gastrointestinal upset, fatigue, and mild nerve damage.
Too much of any supplement will start acting like drugs and have side effects. Except for B12 and folic acid, your body absorbs vitamins and minerals best from food. But, there are some cases that you might need a supplement, whether its a multivitamin or a specific vitamin.
Signs you might need a supplement:
- If you have a specific nutrient deficiency, you may need a specific nutrient supplement with the help of food.
- If you are on a low calorie diet. (fewer than 1600 kcalories per day)*
- If you are vegan or vegetarian. You might need a B12 and a multivitamin.
- If you are lactose intolerant, you may need calcium.
- If you are pregnant, you may need folate and iron.
- If you have limited sun exposure and don’t eat foods that provide you with vitamin D, you may need a vitamin D supplement.
- If you have been injured or diagnosed with an illness of any kind.
- If you are on medication that interferes with the body’s use of specific nutrients.
*If you take a multivitamin, make sure that its no more than 50-100% of the daily value.
There are other conditions that indicate that you may need more vitamins, you can always talk to your doctor about your health concern and he can help you keep the dosage at a safe level.