What to be aware of when you’re consuming supplements

What to be aware of when you're consuming supplements

One of the ways I stay current in my nursng profession is by reading clinical, peer reviewed nursing journals.  Today I read an article that listed the reasons why nurses need to be teaching patients about vitamin and mineral supplementation. Here’s what the author said – nurses are “are in an excellent position to give patients sound advice about vitamin and mineral supplements,” and “despite the large sums of money consumers spend on dietary supplements, many don’t know much about these products. Typically, these supplements are self-prescribed. What’s more, their use remains largely unregulated, underscoring the need for better consumer education”.

Back in October, I wrote a short article on vitamins but after reading this article today, I wanted to make sure that I also informed my readers on some of the potential dangers of vitamins and to always get advice from those of us with a medical background. So many ‘health coaches’ give advice that is not based on any medical background. They mean well, but that’s not an excuse when someone overdoses or has an adverse reaction.

Here are a few things to be aware of when you’re taking supplements:

  • Large doses (2-4grams) of omega-3 fatty accids can cause bleeding and other adverse effects.   The recommended dose is 1gram.
  • No dosage limits have been set for vitamin B12.
  • Too much Vitamin A has been linked to fractures, osteoporosis, and bone defects. During pregnancy, excessive vitamin A has been linked to birth defects.
  • Too much iron supplementation may harm persons with hemochromatosis, an iron overload disorder that can lead to liver damage, heart disease, and arthritis. Excess iron acts as a pro-oxidant, which can damage tissues and organs.
  • Excess zinc may interfere with copper metabolism (daily upper limit is 40mg/day). Copper deficiency may cause increase in blood cholesterol levels and damage blood vessels.
  • In children, toxic vitamin and mineral overdoses are fairly common because chewy vitamins taste like candy and may entice a child to consume unsafe amounts.

Keep in mind that the majority of us can get our daily needs by consuming whole foods which provide naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.

If you need more information on vitamins, please go to these reputable sites for more information:

http://ods.od.nih.gov/ Office of Dietary Supplements (National Institutes of Health)

www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/prodnatur/index-eng.php Natural Health Products (Health Canada)

www.fda.gov/Food/DietarySupplements/default.htm Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (FDA)

www.fda.gov/medwatch MedWatch (FDA), for reports of adverse reactions linked to supplements

www.consumerlab.com ConsumerLab. For an annual fee of $33.00 for 12 months or $54.00 for 24 months, you can become a member of this independent supplement testing and certifying organization. Members get access to test results for hundreds of products, as well as tips on buying and using products and price checks for smarter shopping.

Reference: Heinlein, C. “Teaching patients about vitamin and mineral supplements”. April 2013 Vol. 8 No. 4


multivitamin pic