Supplements are popular, but are they necessary? Health experts respond
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Many people turn to vitamins and dietary supplements to improve nutrient deficiencies or general health. Are you one of them? Do they work, or are they a waste of money and possibly dangerous?
A new survey from Consumer Reports shines the light on some of the most popular supplements, with findings that might surprise you. According to a survey by Consumer Reports, 60% of adults in the U.S. take at least one supplement daily. But do these supplements work? It’s difficult to know whether a supplement is working, especially if you are taking medication or making lifestyle changes simultaneously.
In addition to vitamins and multivitamins, the most popular supplements Americans take to support overall health are fish oil, calcium, and probiotics. Research shows that taking fish oil can help reduce inflammation, calcium supplements can help with bone health, and probiotics can treat diarrhea from taking antibiotics. So far, however, no research demonstrates that probiotics improve overall health.
When it comes to supplements taken to strengthen immunity, one of the most popular is zinc. Unless you are zinc deficient, you’re probably getting the recommended amount by eating a balanced diet. There is also evidence that a diet rich in antioxidants such as berries or blackberries, pumpkin, carrots, and cruciferous vegetables may support brain health.
Melatonin was the most popular supplement for sleep, and CR says there’s a good reason. Taking melatonin can help you fall asleep about seven minutes faster, and studies show it’s particularly helpful for those with jet lag or sleep disorders. However, to avoid interfering with the body’s natural production of it, health experts encourage individuals to avoid taking high doses over long periods.
After biotin, collagen was the second-most common supplement taken in the survey to make hair, skin, and nails healthier. However, some supplements come with serious side effects, like liver damage. Consumer Reports recommends avoiding chaparral, coltsfoot, and comfrey. In general, the risk increases with the larger the dosage and the longer the supplement is taken.
Here’s 10 risky supplements that Consumer Reports, with the help of a panel of doctors and researchers, says you should steer clear of:
- Greater celandine
- Pennyroyal oil
- Usnic Acid
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