7 Critical Facts About Supplements that Women Need to Know

When it comes to dietary supplements, too much of a good thing can be, well, kind of a bad thing.

Dietary supplements are anything that you add to your regular diet to improve your health. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbs, some homeopathic products and certain food products.

While these all seem like “good things,” the truth is that taking high levels of supplements can be ineffective. In some cases, it can be downright toxic.

7 Critical Facts About Supplements - In Content

The National Institutes of Health states that most people only need a well-balanced diet to get the recommended daily allowances (RDA) of important minerals and vitamins from a well-balanced diet. But women sometimes have nutritional needs that go beyond the typical RDA.

Consider these facts before deciding whether you need dietary supplements:

  1. Women need support for strong bones. That's why calcium and vitamin D3 supplements are often recommended for female patients.    
  2. Women typically require additional iron, magnesium and folic acid. But talk to your doctor first. You’ll want to be sure that you really need them.
  3. Special cases have special needs. You might also need supplements if you are:
    • Pregnant or nursing
    • Abusing alcohol
    • Vegan or vegetarian
    • Ill or frail
    • Postmenopausal
  4. “Natural” does not always mean “safe.” For example, the herbs comfrey and kava can cause serious harm to the liver. If you’re considering natural or herb-based supplements, check with your doctor.
  5. Supplements are regulated differently than drugs, and the quality and safety requirements are less stringent. Supplement manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that their products are safe, and that the label information is truthful and does not mislead the consumer. However, unlike pharmaceutical makers, supplement manufacturers do not have to provide the Food and Drug Administration with data that demonstrate the product’s safety before it is marketed.
  6. Be careful about mixing things together. Be upfront with your doctor about what supplements you’re taking. Some may interfere with prescription medicines, and the combination could be dangerous.
  7. Don’t overdo it. Strictly follow your doctor’s dosage instructions. Like over-the-counter and prescription medications, too much of a given supplement could be risky.
Small Steps: Eat fish weekly.
Fish with omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, trout and herring, are especially beneficial to your arteries and heart.