Supplement Q & A

Common Questions about Supplements

Inadequate sunlight:

In the winter months you may not be getting enough sunlight to produce the sufficient amount of Vitamin D needed. Having low levels of Vitamin D may increase your risk for diabetes, some forms of cancer, hypertension, and other conditions. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 600 IU for adults and 800 IU for those over 70.

Energy and iron:

Iron supplements may help if you have low iron levels in your blood (even if you are not considered anemic). Remember that low energy levels can also be caused by the quality of foods you eat, sleep patterns, and exercise. Be sure iron is the thing causing your energy crashes before you supplement.


Omega-3’s may be able to reduce depression symptoms, according to research. St. John’s Wort shows mixed results in helping with depression symptoms, and also may cause side effects (other negative reactions) when combined with other medications (birth control and blood thinners, to name a few).

Fighting a cold:

Zinc has been shown through studies to reduce the duration of a cold if taken within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms. Vitamin C and Echinacea can help regulate your immune system, but research does not necessarily support them helping you recover from cold.

Trouble sleeping:

Valerian root may be able to help with anxiety, mood, and some sleep issues. Melatonin has been studied and shown to help alleviate sleeping problems (jet lag, sleepiness after shift changes, circadian rhythm disorders, DSPD).

B12 for the elderly:

After the age 50 you should check your Vitamin B levels, esp. B12. This is because your body is absorbing 10-30% less of it. The gut produces less acid as we age and the acid plays a big role in B12 absorption. If you avoid meat and dairy (B12 sources) or have Crohn’s or celiac disease you should also check your B12 levels because you are at risk for deficiency. Low B12 can cause numbness and tingling in the extremities, as well as cognitive changes (memory loss).


RDA’s are the amount s of nutrients/vitamins a healthy person should be getting each day. These amounts may differ by age, gender, and whether you are pregnant or breastfeeding. RDAs are set by the Institute of Medicine. Daily Value (DV) is set by the FDA, and is listed on your product labels. The DV tells you how much of a vitamin or nutrient is contained in one serving of the product you are consuming. Often times it is shown as a percentage based on your daily needs (based on 2,000 calorie diet of people age four or older). 

Before you start a new supplement:

-Consult your doctor and pharmacist before adding any new supplements.

-Be sure to have a list of all the prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, herbs, and supplements you are taking. Some of these things may have negative side effects or diminish others effects when used together.

– Be sure to read the labels and follow the directions for use.


-Don’t mix pills. This will cause them to degrade.

-Don’t take supplements that have expired. If they become rancid or have brown spots throw them out. This means they have gone bad and have lost their nutritional value.

-Moist environments decrease the supplements shelf life and quality. Keep them in a dry area out of direct sunlight.

Other Health Topics:

Better Digestion

Back to School Health Tips

Daily Nutrition with Supplements

Antibiotics and Obesity

Grapefruit Benefits

Supplements for Concussion

Remember that this information is for educational purposes only. Seek the advice of a health specialist before making any changes to your healthcare.


“Making Sense of Supplements”- LA Times