Vitamins & Supplements Archive


Biotin supplements

Taking supplements that contain high levels of biotin (vitamin B7) can lead to falsely low or falsely high results on a troponin test, a blood test used to diagnose heart attacks.

Curcumin supplements might ease meal-related discomfort

A small randomized trial in 2023 found that taking two 250-mg capsules of curcumin four times a day was as effective at relieving dyspepsia symptoms as taking one daily 20-mg dose of the heartburn medication omeprazole (Prilosec, Zegerid).

The false promise of fish oil supplements

Despite statements like "promotes heart health" on the labels of fish oil supplements, multiple randomized trials show no evidence of heart-related benefits from using these products. In addition, manufacturing methods might make the products either useless or even harmful. The supplements do provide omega-3 fatty acids, but people can get these essential fats by eating two servings of fatty fish weekly or following a vegetarian diet rich in healthy oils, nuts, and seeds.

Immune boosts or busts? From IV drips and detoxes to superfoods

Ads for products that promise to supercharge the body's immune system make claims that sound too good to be true. But do these products actually work? 

Is it okay to take multivitamins?

The general consensus is that healthy people who eat right need a vitamin or mineral supplement only if they have a diagnosed vitamin or mineral deficiency. Still, multivitamins may provide a safety net to fill dietary nutrition gaps even for people who mostly eat healthy. Studies have shown that taking multivitamins as prescribed usually doesn't cause any serious issues, and many over-the-counter brands are relatively inexpensive. Some people also view taking a daily multivitamin as another way to support a healthy lifestyle.

Will a multivitamin help my brain?

Increasing evidence suggests that people who take a daily multivitamin pill have a lower risk of cognitive decline compared with people who don't take multivitamins. In particular, two randomized controlled trials published in the spring of 2023 found that people older than age 60 who take a multivitamin are less likely to experience a slight age-related cognitive decline, at least over the next three years, compared to those taking a placebo. The benefit appeared to be particularly true for people who had cardiovascular disease.

Watch out for tainted sexual enhancement products

According to the FDA, many sexual enhancement products sold online and over the counter may cause potentially serious side effects and interact with other medications or dietary supplements.

Can a multivitamin improve your memory?

Recently published research suggests that a daily multivitamin may improve memory enough such that it can function as if you were three years younger. We take a closer look at the study.

Start vetting your supplements

Online tools enable consumers to vet dietary supplements before taking them. That's important, since dietary supplements sometimes contain hidden prescription drugs, controlled substances, or untested and unstudied components. Some of the most reliable tools to vet supplements are provided on the websites of the FDA, National Institutes of Health, and Department of Defense. Consumers can look up basic information about dietary supplements, clinical evidence about their use and effectiveness, suspicious ingredients they may contain, and safety violations.

Good intentions, perilous results

Some supplements can interfere with lab tests to diagnose or monitor health conditions, which can lead to life-threatening misdiagnoses or unnecessary additional testing. Biotin (vitamin B7) can skew results from a blood test to diagnose heart attack. Other problematic supplements include vitamin C, which can interfere with blood sugar readings and stool tests; calcium, which can make bones appear denser than they are on bone density scans; and creatine, which can lead to falsely high readings of creatinine, a marker for kidney disease.

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