What You Should Know Before Taking Supplements
While we consider ways to rejuvenate our bodies after enduring an abundance of sweet treats over the holidays, it may seem obvious to add dietary supplements to our daily intake.
“Everyone wants to take a vitamin, but for a lot of supplements, we don’t really know what’s in them,” said Dr. Timothy Tyler, PharmD, who is Director of Pharmacy at the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Desert Regional. He suggests individuals consider carefully the benefits and potential harms before starting a supplement regimen.
He points to a review in the Cochrane Library* which states that current evidence does not support the use of antioxidant supplements in the pursuit to live a longer life.
“Certain tablets have coatings and shellacs to make them look good, and in some, if you put them in a flask that mimics the gastric environment in the body, they don’t break down which means the contents of the vitamins inside select supplements aren’t being digested,” Dr. Tyler said.
The best way to get key nutrients and vitamins into our bodies is by eating the right foods – those that aren’t highly refined or filled with preservatives. “For example, orange juice is okay, but eating an orange is better because you are getting the fiber, too, and there is more of a slow release of the sugar within the fruit so your body isn’t being hit with it like a stick of dynamite,” explained Dr. Tyler.
On January 24, 2023, Dr. Tyler will be one of the featured speakers at Desert Care Network’s Ringing in the New Year Health Fair – a half-day event which includes mindful meditation sessions and yoga. He plans to talk about supplements and what should be considered before taking them.
“When looking at taking supplements, I’ve heard people say, ‘well it’s natural so it’s healthy,’” said Dr. Tyler. “Strychnine is natural too, but it doesn’t mean it’s healthy. It simply means it came from the ground.”
He goes on to say that some supplements can be linked to health benefits, such as milk thistle, which is known for promoting liver health. “It’s not a magic bean, but it will help detox the liver,” Dr. Tyler said. “Turmeric is an antioxidant and it’s good for inflammation, as well.”
If you are going to take supplements, Dr. Tyler urges individuals to talk with their doctors first. The Comprehensive Cancer Center at Desert Regional Medical Center recently asked its patients whether or not they were taking supplements. Most admitted they were, but had not told their health care providers.
“There are medical reasons why you maybe shouldn’t be taking certain supplements, so you should always list everything you are taking. Since 1999, our intake forms have included asking about supplements.”
Dr. Tyler is the Director of Pharmacy, Lab & Oncology Supportive Care at the Comprehensive Cancer Center, and is also the head of pain management. He travels around the world to give roughly three lectures per month. To hear Dr. Tyler share more about supplements, register for the Ringing in the New Year Health Fair on January 24, 2023, at https://www.desertcarenetwork.com/events#8017.
*Source: Cochrane Library; Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., in Issue 3, 2012.