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Vitamins and Supplements: What You Need to Know


The rows of choices are endless, but before you start taking over-the-counter supplements, pharmacists say, make sure you read the label. “A large misconception is because something is natural, that it’s safe which is not always the case,” said Kacie Brubaker, a pharmacist with Lee Health.

There are specific labels you want to look for on any supplement. “There are certain seals of approval on things that are available over-the-counter. The biggest one is the United States Pharmacopeia. They review the things that are available for their potency, their ingredients, so those are a little bit safer for people to take,” said Brubaker.

There are also words you want to avoid. “There are certain things to watch out for: if something claims that it is the best, it’s going to give you fast results, it’s going to give you a quick fix, those are things you want to steer clear of,” she said.

And when it comes to reading the label make sure you know what ingredients are being used. “Often people are taking other medications, either over-the-counter or prescription, or they have disease states that interact with the vitamins and supplements. It really is patient-specific,” said Brubaker.

But depending on your health conditions, your diet, and lifestyle, health experts say you may not even need supplements. “If you are on a balanced diet and you are taking a bunch of vitamins every day you are basically paying to have really expensive urine, because if you have too much of this stuff, you’re not doing anything with it it’s just cycling through your body,” explained Brubaker.

Pregnant women, nursing mothers, strict vegetarians, people with food allergies, and senior citizens typically need to be taking supplements to improve or maintain their health.

Before you start taking a supplement, it’s important to talk to your doctor and know what you want to get out of the supplement.

View More Health Matters video segments at LeeHealth.org/Healthmatters/

Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health – Caring People. Inspiring Care.

Visit LeeHealth.org

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The Difference Between Vitamins and Supplements


Vitamins or supplements? It’s a question pharmacist Kacie Brubaker gets all the time. “With dietary supplements, it’s really an umbrella term that contains vitamins, supplements, minerals, any dietary supplements, and it really refers to anything you are taking to supplement your regular diet,” said Kacie Brubaker, a pharmacist with Lee Health.

But she says there is a difference between taking vitamins and taking supplements. “Vitamins are natural substances that are required for your body to function normally and remain healthy, whereas your more traditional dietary supplements are not essential, they are to promote health in other areas,” she said.

While some patients may only need a vitamin or supplement for a limited time, others may need one long-term. Patients who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, for example, will often have a low vitamin B12—so it’s important they add that to their daily diet. “We want to make sure you’re getting enough, but we don’t want too much because certain vitamins can build up in the body and cause problems later on,” Brubaker said.

Before taking a vitamin or supplement, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor to make sure it won’t interact with other medications. Knowing what your body needs before you take a vitamin or supplement is important to improving your overall health.

View More Health Matters video segments at LeeHealth.org/Healthmatters/

Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health – Caring People. Inspiring Care.

Visit LeeHealth.org

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