Vitamin supplements are certainly the rage these days – especially among our “aging population” (including myself!). There are substances marketed for improving your brain power, your emotional health, your skin, sight, weight, aging, digestion, bone health, etc. Quite a few things are helpful, but many are more beneficial to the marketers than the people who take them. How do we know which are really beneficial?
Actually, perhaps the biggest problem with taking multiple vitamin supplements is the possible interactions with other medications or impact on other health problems. Because of this, the more specific (fewer ingredients) things have, the more comfortable I am with them. In my practice, I look to the research to make decisions on supplements. Unfortunately, in America there is little ‘good’ research (this would be randomized trials comparing a supplement to placebo or large meta-analysis of many well-conducted studies). Often there are more trials available from Europe because the government there regulates supplements as well as allopathic medicines. I have found that an excellent source of fact vs fiction is the Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, a department of the National Institutes of Health.
In ALL cases it is best to let your provider know what supplemental medications you are taking on a regular basis!
Mary Hutton Eyer, ARNP