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Ask the Doctor: Are Vitamins and Supplements Good or Bad For You?

Many vitamins in a spoon

May. 12 2022

by Kelli Savia, DO, Lexington Family Practice White Knoll

Many people take vitamins or supplements for their general health or to help with weight loss, mood, strength and other conditions.

Q. Are there any vitamins or supplements you recommend your patients take at different stages of life?

There are no hard and fast recommendations for supplements for the majority of the population, regardless of age. There are some exceptions such as breast fed infants, patients with osteoporosis, patients post- bariatric surgery.
Q. Are there any that you recommend people avoid?

The phenomenon of vitamins and supplements is an industry that has gained steam in popularity and usage that over the last several decades. It is really important to only take vitamins or supplements that you need to replace a deficiency, so I would avoid supplements that you don’t need. I also recommend avoiding supplements with fillers and preservatives.
Q. Can vitamins and supplements interact with prescription medications?

Most definitely. Vitamins and supplements have to be metabolized just like pharmaceutical prescriptions, usually through the liver and/ or kidneys.
Q. Can vitamins and supplements ever be dangerous?

The short answer is yes, potentially. Existing chronic medical conditions such as liver disease, kidney disease, coronary artery disease, epilepsy, etc. can impact the safety profile of supplements and vitamins. 
Q. Is there anything you should look for on a label to be sure a product is safe?

Supplements and vitamins are not FDA regulated, so it is very hard to decipher based on the bottle. I recommend ensuring the supplement is as pure as possible, void of any fillers, preservatives, emulsifiers, etc. Some of the most common synthetic preservatives used in vitamins or supplements, as well as shelf stable foods, are sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate. 

I also recommend being very transparent with your doctors if you are taking supplements.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like readers to know before they purchase vitamins and supplements?

Health and wellness should be the goal of any habit, new or old. First and foremost, the foundation of health and wellness begins with diet (how you nourish your body), exercise (how you move your body), and sleep quality. Any addition of pharmaceuticals or nutraceuticals (vitamins and supplements) should augment the above foundational habits.

Head shot of Dr. Savia
Kelli Savia, DO, Lexington Family Practice White Knoll

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Disclaimer: This blog is intended for general understanding and education about Lexington Medical Center. Nothing on the blog should be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Blog visitors with personal health or medical questions should consult their health care provider.