Making Sense of Supplements

Do you take a multivitamin or dietary supplement? If so, you are not alone. In 2016, 71 percent of adults (more than 170 million) did, especially those age 55 and older.

A well-balanced, healthy diet may provide the full complement of necessary vitamins, minerals and other nutrients your body needs. When your diet falls short, supplements can fill the void. However, you should be aware that there are downsides and risks with supplements.


Overview of Supplements

There are four general categories of supplements: vitamins, minerals, herbs/botanicals and sports nutrition aids. Each contain one or more dietary ingredients, and they come in a variety of forms, such as pills, powders and energy bars. The most common reasons people give for taking supplements is for overall health and wellness and increased energy.

The most common supplement is a multivitamin. Most multivitamins contain the age and gender recommended dietary allowance of nutrients needed to meet the requirements of most healthy people.

Benefits of Supplements

Supplements can help some people get the right amounts of essential nutrients when they are deficient or if they have unusual demands on their health. For example, women take folic acid (a type of B vitamin) when pregnant because folic acid deficiencies can cause birth defects in a developing baby’s spine or brain. People who have iron-deficiency anemia (from internal bleeding or heavy menstrual flow, for example) may need iron supplements to bring their iron levels up to normal levels.

One area where supplements are of value is in age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness. Studies have shown that daily high doses of vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, zinc and copper can help slow the progression of AMD.


Downsides and Risks of Supplements

Even though we can’t live without certain nutrients, more is not necessarily better. You can get too much of a nutrient if you’re getting enough in your diet and taking a supplement. Supplements can also interfere with the effectiveness of medications you may take. When you take vitamin K supplements along with blood-thinning medications, for example, the vitamin K may lower the drug’s effectiveness. Garlic may prolong bleeding, so if you’re taking garlic supplements, your doctor may ask you to stop taking it a week or more before you have scheduled surgery. Iron is a leading cause of poisoning in young children.


This Month’s Action Items

  • Medically Speaking podcasts
  • An Overview of Comprehensive MS Care
    • This is an overview of comprehensive multiple sclerosis care as delivered by the Mandell MS Center. Topics will include comprehensive symptom management, multi-disciplinary functional evaluations and research. A question and answer/Ask the Expert session will also be offered.
    • Wednesday, August 14, 2019 @ 5:30 p.m. – Wyndham Southbury, 1284 Strongtown Road, Southbury, CT
    • Click here to learn more and to register!
  • Making Sense of Supplements
    • Should you take a multi-vitamin?  Take vitamin C when not feeling well?  Which brand should you buy? Supplements are a multi-billion dollar industry and the overwhelming choices are challenging to navigate. Join us to review the art and science behind using supplements for better health.
    • Tuesday, August 20 @ 5:30 p.m.-7:00 p.m., Comprehensive Women’s Health Center, Saint Francis Hospital
    • Click here to register!
  • Exploring the Relaxation Response
    • True relaxation involves activating the body’s natural relaxation response, a state of deep rest and relaxation. Join us as we explore the relaxation response, and discuss various techniques you can practice to combat stress.
    • Tuesday, August 20 @ 10-11 a.m., Johnson Memorial Hospital
    • Wednesday, August 28 @ 1:00-2:00 p.m., Enfield Senior Center
    • Click here to learn more!
  • Life’s Simple 7® – Your Road Map to Better Health
    • Join us as we discuss the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7®, seven small steps you can take that will lead you on a path of improved overall health. Anyone can make these changes, and everyone can benefit from them. Start your journey today!
    • Thursday, August 29 @ 2:00-3:00 p.m., Saint Francis Enfield, 7 Elm St., Enfield, CT
    • Click here to learn more!

Planning ahead? Get ahead of the game with the following September events!

  • Free Hernia Screening Events!
    • We are all born with the potential to have a hernia at some point in our lives. In this free educational event, we will discuss the anatomy of hernias, why and how we get them, and ways to avoid getting them in the first place and ways to fix them. Private screenings and consultations with our surgeons will follow the information session. These are free events, but pre-registration is required.
    • Tuesday, September 17, 2019 @ 5:30 p.m. – Mercy Medical Center, 175 Carew St., Suite 110, Springfield, MA
    • Monday, September 23, 2019 @ 5:30 p.m. – Nagatuck Valley Surgical Center, Waterbury, CT
  • Free Bariatric Surgery Seminar!
    • Find out if surgical weight loss is an option for you by attending one of our free informational sessions presented by Dr. Shohan Shetty and Dr. Shady Macaron.
    • Wednesday, September 25, 2019 @ 5:30 p.m. – Torrington Library, Community Room, 12 Daycoeton Place, Torrington, CT
    • Click here to learn more!