Every morning after I eat breakfast, I take a gummy multi-vitamin, chew up a vitamin B-12 tablet, swallow a vitamin D gelcap, three hair, skin & nails vitamins, a Tumeric capsule, an Alpha-Lipoic capsule and a fish oil gel cap the size of my head. Too much? I know people who take a whole lot more of these supplements!

Do they do anything? Do they make a difference? Vitamin B-12 has been associated with preventing anemia and boosting energy. I take it because I am a longtime proton pump inhibitor (Prilosec) user and your stomach needs acid to absorb adequate amounts of B-12 from food and mine does not. Energy booster? I haven't had any evidence of this particular benefit.

Vitamin D plays multiple roles in the body from maintaining bone health to regulating insulin levels and some studies have indicated low Vitamin D levels can lead to or deepen depression. I take it for all of these reasons. Has it helped? You wouldn't know it by the continuing deterioration of my joints, but I do believe it has helped somewhat with my depression issues (which have been ongoing for decades).

The rest of these supplements all play a role in the state of my health. Maybe. Now comes new information on subjects all takers of supplements have wondered about. What exactly is in them and are they safe? The answer to both of these questions may be- -"who knows?".

The Nutrition Business Journal indicates that supplement sales have increased 81% in the last decade. They attribute this to supplements having a safer image than prescription drugs and there is a supplement for any problem you can think of from memory loss to sexual dysfunction.

There is no real way to know how safe or effective any of these products are because they are not regulated the way prescription drugs are. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report from a few years ago indicated that from 2008 to 2011 the FDA received close to 6500 reports of health problems from dietary supplements. This number includes over 1,000 serious injuries or illnesses, hundreds of life-threatening conditions and even 92 fatalities.

But the GAO also indicates these detrimental numbers are more than likely much higher due to the amount of supplements which are taken every year and the underreporting of negative experiences and results.

So what is the takeaway from all of this information? Apparently- -we're on our own.

Source: Consumer Reports July 2016

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