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Consider vitamins and supplements with your healthcare provider


The quality of a supplement’s ingredients should be examined closely by you and your healthcare provider.[/caption]

One overlooked and quite important bit of information most patients fail to inform their healthcare providers of is the full range of supplements, herbs, spices and pain medications they consume. It is an important fact. All vitamins and supplements need to be entered into a patient’s medical chart to make sure adverse interactions do not occur.

I believe many patients fail to thoroughly examine why they are taking a specific supplement and whether it will truly provide the benefits patients are seeking. At times, the decision to take vitamins and supplements is made on a whim or because a patient knows of someone, who takes a particular supplement. This decision should be made with the guidance of a healthcare provider.

It is important to note that all vitamins and supplements are not created equal. Just like so many things in life, the quality of a supplement’s ingredients should be examined closely by you and your healthcare provider. Often, such an assessment is not always easy to discern.

There are standards that vitamin and supplement manufacturers are to follow. These products are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration as food, not as medications. Vitamin and supplement quality is based on how these supplements are created, stored, processed and ingredients measured. The FDA prohibits these manufacturers from marketing products whose ingredients have not been processed in a consistent manner.

For example, herbs that have been allowed to dry in the sun and then processed will vary in concentration from herbs that were dried and maintained at a more controlled temperature. Supplements with Omega-3 fatty acids that have been sourced from farm raised fish and fed corn will possess a different quality than supplements manufactured from wild caught fish allowed to eat what mother nature provided.

The FDA prohibits vitamin and supplement manufacturers from adulterating (modifying ingredients at will) or misbranding these products as having beneficial health effects they do not possess. The agency states that manufacturers are “responsible for evaluating the safety and labeling of their products before marketing to ensure they meet all the requirements of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.” The agency also has the “authority to take action against any adulterated or misbranded dietary supplement product after it reaches the market.”

Studies have shown that high quality micronutrient supplements have cardiovascular benefits. Several studies list Omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid and Coenzyme Q10 as micronutrients with significant cardiovascular benefits. Other micronutrients found to reduce cardiovascular risk include Omega-6 fatty acids, L-arginine, L-citrulline, magnesium, zinc, alpha-lipoic acid, melatonin, catechin, curcumin, flavanol genistein and quercetin.

Researchers have found no cardiovascular effect with vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E and selenium. These vitamins may have other health benefits, however cardiovascular health is not one of them.

Be sure to discuss with your healthcare provider which vitamins and supplements would be best for you. Research and seek out the best product you can afford.

This is not the time to be cheap.

Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at