Everything you want to know about Dietary Supplements

Nowadays almost everyone is taking nutrient supplements, in form or another. Supplements of calcium, Iron, Phosphorous and Vitamins are quite common. Wrong food habits and life style pave way to malnutrition, and when body lacks needed nutrients, it need to relay on such artificial supplements. Dietary Supplements come in market in different forms – capsules, tablets, powders etc and one may easily fall prey seeing advertisements. But most vital part is – one need to consult a doctor before taking such supplements. Otherwise it can adversely affect health. Though nutrient supplements give some essential supplements, certain things are to be noted if they are to be absorbed to blood stream properly, and to give less side effects or bad consequences. So, take care of these important points while taking vitamin supplements. Here are some of the very common doubts related to supplements cleared.

1. When should we take Vitamin supplements?

In a balanced diet, we get all essential nutrients including vitamins. But due to diabetic condition, heart diseases or pregnancy, or when a person is not able to provide all essential vitamins through food, he may need to take vitamin supplements. Breastfeeding mothers and pregnant ladies very often need to take vitamin supplements. For the proper growth and development of nervous system of foetus, the mother may need to take folic acid supplements. If you stay full time instead home or office with less exposure to sunlight, Vitamin D may be needed to provide extra. For diabetic patients, to avoid neuropathy problems, they may need to take Vitamin B1, B6, B12 supplements.

2. What are the important points while taking vitamin supplements?

Take vitamin supplements only after seeking the advice of your doctor. Most vitamin supplements have some side effects, and hence doctor’s advice is strictly needed while taking them. If the level Vitamin A and D increase, it leads to many other health issues.

A patient should take vitamin supplements as suggested by doctor, in prescribed quantity, duration and interval. Before starting taking the supplements, you should also give the list of medicines you take to your doctor. Some medicines and their contents may conflict to one another. Take vitamin tablet along with a glass of water.

Milk, milk products, antacids and calcium supplements should never be taken along with vitamin supplements. Calcium content of these items can block the absorption of vitamins to your body. Side effects such as headache, tasteless for food, vomiting tendency, loss of appetite etc are quite common. If side effects are serious, seek doctor’s help.

3. What things are to be noted so that calcium will be fully absorbed by body?

Magnesium improves the absorption of calcium. Cashews, pulses, vegetables etc are rich in magnesium. You should take Vitamin D along with calcium. Calcium tablets should be chewed well while taken. Calcium carbonated tablets should be taken along with food. If you take iron tablets, give a gap of at least 2 hours in between.

4. What are the important points while taking iron tablets?

It’s advisable to take iron tablets half hour before regular food, so that iron will be absorbed better. But if taken in empty stomach, conditions like stomach pain, vomiting tendency etc can happen. So it’s better to take iron tablets with light food. As Vitamin C improves iron absorption, you can drink orange juice while taking iron supplements. While taking iron tablets, excreted stool may change to black colour. But there is nothing to worry.

If you take iron tablets with milk, it blocks iron absorption. Calcium present in milk combines with iron to form a new substance, which is not easy to get absorbed in the intestine. Not just milk, you should also avoid tea, milk products, eggs etc while taking iron tablets. It’s advisable to consume these food products only two hours after taking iron tablets.

5. Can Vitamin supplements give problems such as vomiting and constipation?

Not just vitamin tablets, iron tablets, calcium tablets etc can also give constipation. Stomach related issues may be nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, loss of appetite etc. If you take these medicines in empty stomach, there are more chances for such issues. Take these supplements only after food. Also drink minimum 8-10 glasses of water every day. Include fiber rich – fruits, vegetables and leafy vegetables in your diet. Those who take iron and other supplements can include fresh salads in regular diet to keep stomach related issues at bay.

6. When should micro-nutrient supplements taken?

If a healthy person takes normal diet, there is no need to give extra supplements. But for patients with long-term liver & kidney diseases, breathing problems, old people, pregnant ladies, breastfeeding mothers and bedridden patients may need to take such supplements. Calcium, iron, magnesium, iodine etc, and elements such as cobalt, chromium, selenium etc are given along with vitamin supplements. They should be taken strictly under doctor’s advice, because excess quantity of these elements in the body can give many side effects.

7. Which supplements should never be taken together?

Some supplements if taken together can block the absorption to blood cells. Best instance is calcium supplement which blocks the absorption of almost all other supplements. So it’s better to take vitamin supplements and calcium supplements at different time. Also, supplements rich in magnesium should never be taken with other ones. Take supplements seeking doctor’s advice only.

8. When should vitamin supplements taken – before or after food?  

Vitamin supplements and micro-nutrients will be effectively absorbed to body, if they are taken before food. But they can cause stomach related issues if taken in empty stomach. Loss of appetite, vomiting tendency, stomach pain, vomiting etc are the common side effects. Usually doctors advise patients to take vitamin supplements after food.

9. If vitamin tablets taken in excess lead to health issues?

Vitamin supplements should be taken in right quantity and proportion as required for the body. Supplements which reach body in excess can lead to other health related issues and side effects. For instance, an adult needs 600 microgram Vitamin-A a day. If he takes Vitamin-A in excess, nausea, loss of appetite, sleeplessness etc can also happen. It can also cause skin related issues. Inflammation of liver is yet another side effect.

If Vitamin-D reaches body in excess, it increases calcium level, leading to stomach related issues and also damages to kidney. It can also fluctuate heartbeat.  

Image source: Pixabay

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Sandy

A freelance writer and blogger by profession since October 2011, interested in writing over a wide range of topics. Hope you enjoy my writings. I belong to one of the beautiful places of the world, Kerala, nicknamed as 'God's own country'.

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