Medications are pharmaceutical medicines that you receive from a doctor’s office or a hospital. These drugs treat specific health issues and have undergone rigorous testing and research. Most people are familiar with medications such as insulin, blood pressure pills and cholesterol-lowering statins.
Unlike pharmaceutical medications, supplements do not undergo premarket regulation or testing before reaching consumers. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only regulates supplements once a problem is reported by a consumer or researcher. This means that supplements that contain hidden drugs or other unsafe ingredients may remain on the market for years.
Supplements vs Medications come in a variety of forms, including tablets, powders, bars and liquids. The main reason that many people take supplements is to replace or reinforce a nutrient in their diet, especially vitamins and minerals. Many Americans don’t eat as well as they should, which can leave them deficient in certain nutrients. Additionally, some medications have side effects that can also leave people deficient in certain nutrients.
Although it’s tempting to reach for the bottle of multivitamins, not all supplements are created equal. Some have been shown to be ineffective or even harmful. It’s important to choose supplements that are regulated by the FDA and that list all ingredients on their label.
The most common types of supplements include calcium, vitamin C, folic acid, omega-3 fatty acids and selenium. Many of these supplements have been shown to provide specific benefits when consumed regularly, such as reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Those who are interested in taking a dietary supplement should talk to their doctor first. They should also be aware that many supplements can interact with prescription medications. For instance, some herbal products contain substances that can interact with drugs used to treat diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
In addition, some dietary supplements can interfere with other natural products, such as herbal remedies or over-the-counter treatments for colds and flu. This is because the absorption and actions of natural products are governed by the same principles as those of pharmaceutical medications, called pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics.
While most dietary supplements are safe, it’s important to read labels carefully. Some have been found to contain hidden drugs or other dangerous ingredients, and others can interact with other medications and make you sick. Additionally, some supplements can be dangerous if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding or are taking any type of medication. If you have questions about whether a supplement is right for you, consult your doctor or dietitian.
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