Vitamin and mineral supplements are one of the most popular health products today, being offered in pharmacies, health stores, and in recent years, online retailers. But with the wide array of supplements available, vitamin safety is often overlooked. Here are some of the supplements that have caused recent concerns, and some tips on ensuring vitamin safety.
Beta carotene. Beta carotene is an antioxidant commonly found in orange fruits and vegetables. It is converted to vitamin A in the body and is a popular anti-aging drug. However, studies have linked increased intake of beta carotene to lung cancer, especially in those with existing risk factors such as smoking and exposure to asbestos. To ensure vitamin safety, he Food Standards Agency (FSA) recommends taking a maximum of 7 mg per day.
Manganese. Often taken as part of iron supplements, manganese prevents toxic reactions to oxygen. The body needs only small amounts of manganese. Excessive intake over long periods can cause muscle and nerve disorders in older people. For healthy adults, the recommended dose is 4 mg a day; for the elderly, the limit is 0.5 mg daily.
Zinc. Zinc naturally occurs in the body, so zinc supplements must be taken only when prescribed to prevent zinc toxicity. Too much zinc in the body can damage the immune system, cause severe anemia and digestion problems, and inhibit the absorption of other minerals such as iron and copper. According to the FSA, patients should not exceed 25 mg of zinc a day.
Niacin. Also known as vitamin B3, niacin helps flush out toxic chemicals and produces anti-stress hormones. It also increases good cholesterol in the blood, making it popular among patients with heart disease. However, excessive intake can cause cell damage, blurred vision, and blindness. Maximum safe intake is 17 mg for nicotinic acid supplements and 500 mg of nicotinamide daily.
Phosphorus. Phosphorus is a major component of living tissue and helps transport cellular energy. It is highly poisonous and should only be taken under prescription. The FSA recommends a dose of less than 250 mg per day.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not impose strict regulations on vitamin safety and quality, so many manufacturers include extenders such as sugar, starch, silica, and gluten in their products. Look for vitamin supplements that are GMP-compliant. These products have passed stringent standards on vitamin safety. Also, make sure there are no chemical additives added, such as coloring and flavoring.
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