Half of all U.S. adults regularly take vitamins or dietary supplements, according to data released this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But taken incorrectly, vitamins can do more harm than good. Here are some vitamin-safety tips, plus ways to get the most benefit from your vitamins:
Take your multi with a meal
Many vitamins—such as A, E, D, and K—need to be eaten along with fat for your body to fully absorb them. Taking vitamins with food also reduces vitamin-related stomach upset.
Maintain a good diet
Vitamins alone are not enough to reduce your risk of disease. Vitamins are meant to complement—not replace—a healthy diet. It’s important to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats.
Don’t overdo it
High doses of certain vitamins can be harmful. Too much iron, for example, increases the risk of cardiovascular problems. So stick to the recommended dietary allowance, printed on most labels. Take a multi-vitamin instead of single supplements, unless you’ve been diagnosed with a specific deficiency or are instructed otherwise by your doctor.
Spread them out
Unless you’re taking a multivitamin, swallow your supplements throughout the day instead of all at once.
Talk to your doctor
A whopping 75 percent of Americans don’t tell their physicians about their vitamin intake, says an official with the American Dietetic Association quoted by Parade.com. That’s a big problem because vitamins can have drug-like effects. (Very high doses of fish oil, for example, can inhibit blood clotting.) Vitamins can also work against each other, or make some prescription medicines more or less effective. Keep a list of your supplements in your wallet so it will be handy when you visit your doctor. He or she can guide you on what vitamins to take, and when.
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