1. Can Taking Nutritional Supplements Lead To Dependence?

The purpose of dietary supplements is to provide the body with essential nutrients that may not be obtained through daily diet, in order to support daily bodily functions and overall health. Taking supplements ensures that the body has sufficient nutrients to operate properly. For example, due to the prevalence of technology use in the modern society, the need for lutein, astaxanthin, and bilberry extract has become more important. However, it is difficult to obtain sufficient amounts of these nutrients via diet alone, unless one consumes a large amount of fruits and vegetables daily. Without adequate supplementation, the body may operate in a state of nutrient deficiency over the long term, which can lead to negative effects on health.

Another example is vitamin D, which can be synthesized by the body through exposure to sunlight. However, this synthesis is affected by many factors, such as climate, latitude, weather, skin color, sunlight exposure time, and wavelength. Therefore, relying on sunlight exposure or diet alone to obtain sufficient amounts of vitamin D can be challenging. Additionally, modern lifestyle more often limits our exposure to sunlight. This is why 90% of Taiwanese people are found to be deficient or insufficient in vitamin D. Omega-3 is another essential nutrient that the body cannot synthesize on its own and must be obtained from external sources. If one does not regularly consume seafood or other omega-3-rich foods, the body may be lacking in essential fatty acids, which can lead to negative effects and risks over the long term. Even if one consumes seafood regularly, there may still be a risk of consuming seafood contaminated with heavy metals due to environmental pollution.

These examples do not suggest that taking supplements alone is sufficient for a healthy lifestyle. A balanced diet is still the foundation of good health. However, high-quality dietary supplements can help us supplement the complete nutrient content that is missing from our daily diet. Therefore, nutritional supplements do not lead to dependence. The root problem lies in whether our daily diet can truly achieve a healthy and balanced state.

2. Do Dietary Supplements Cause Additional Body Burden

Regardless of any food or nutritional supplement, the human body needs to undergo metabolism after consumption, absorbing the necessary nutrients and metabolizing waste or unnecessary substances. However, consuming non-naturally occurring food or nutrients, such as drugs, which do not exist in nature but are developed by technology to improve diseases, requires the liver and kidneys to work extra to metabolize and eliminate the metabolized products from the body, so that they do not stay in the body and cause body burden. Therefore, nutrients naturally present in food can be absorbed and utilized by the body under “normal appropriate” consumption, so they do not cause an additional burden or metabolic load. If a higher intake is needed due to health needs, it is recommended to consult with a professional healthcare provider before consumption.

3. Can Dietary Supplements Interact With Other Medications?

Some nutrients may interact with medications at high concentrations. As a general rule, to avoid conflicts between ingredients, it is recommended to wait at least 2 hours before consuming them or to intake them at separate meals. The best way to ensure safety is to consult a doctor or pharmacist about potential medication conflicts before taking them. Common examples of conflicts include:

a). Fish oil and anticoagulant medications: Fish oil is generally safe when consumed in recommended doses, but consuming large amounts may interact with anticoagulant medications. It is recommended to consult a doctor or pharmacist before consuming them.

b). Coenzyme Q10 (Q10) and warfarin: Q10 has a structure similar to vitamin K and may have a procoagulant effect. Therefore, taking Q10 and oral anticoagulant medication warfarin can result in an interaction that reduces the anticoagulant effect of warfarin.

c). Red yeast rice and statins: Red yeast rice and statins have similar effects, and consuming them together may increase their efficacy, which may cause muscle pain, weakness, and other side effects. In severe cases, it may lead to rhabdomyolysis or liver and kidney damage.

d). Ginkgo biloba and anticoagulant medications: Taking ginkgo biloba with anticoagulants may enhance the anticoagulant effect and cause an interaction that increases the risk of bleeding. Other ingredients that can enhance the anticoagulant effect include Lingzhi and high-dose vitamin E (>400 IU).

e). 5-HTP and antidepressants: 5-HTP is a common ingredient used to improve mood oversea. Taking 5-HTP with antidepressants may lead to high levels of serotonin in the body. Therefore, it is recommended to consume it under the doctor’s guidance.

In fact, even common foods may affect medications. Grapefruit, for example, may interact with blood pressure medications because it contains furanocoumarin derivatives, which inhibit the metabolic activity of the CYP3A4 enzyme in the liver. As many medications are metabolized by this enzyme, consuming grapefruit during medication can increase the concentration of the drug in the blood and increase the risk of side effects. Grapefruit inhibition of metabolism may last up to 2-3 days, so it is not just a matter of separating meals. Therefore, if there are ingredients or foods with severe medication conflicts, it is recommended to consult a doctor or pharmacist before use.

4. Are There Conflicts Between Dietary supplements?

a). Calcium and Iron: Calcium and iron may compete for absorption when taking together, which can affect their effectiveness. However, many studies have shown that although the absorption rate may initially decrease when calcium and iron are supplemented together, there is not much long-term impact. However, it is still recommended to avoid consuming them together if possible. Therefore, it is best to take iron-containing multivitamins or iron supplements for women separately from calcium products.

b). Lutein and Beta-Carotene: Lutein and beta-carotene are both carotenoids and have similar absorption pathways in the body. Therefore, if consumed in large quantities at the same time, it may affect their absorption rate. However, when consumed occasionally or in small amounts, there is not much impact and there is no need to worry excessively.

Generally, if there may be conflicts between nutrients, it is recommended to consume them at least 2 hours apart.

5. Is There A Better Time To Take Dietary Supplements?

a). Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that can be taken on an empty stomach. However, due to its acidic nature, some people with sensitive stomachs may be recommended to take it after a meal to avoid stomach discomfort. The timing of consumption in the morning or evening has no impact.

b). Vitamin Bs: Vitamin B group is a water-soluble nutrient that can be taken on an empty stomach. However, considering the characteristics of the vitamin B group, it is generally recommended to take it after a meal. Because vitamin B1 has a unique taste, taking it on an empty stomach may cause hiccups and discomfort for some people with sensitive intestines. In addition, the main function of the vitamin B group is to help metabolize nutrients after digestion and further produce energy, so taking it after a meal can promote metabolism and improve physical strength. Therefore, it is still recommended to take it after breakfast for the best timing. After metabolizing the vitamin B group in the morning, it can also further help improve the quality of sleep at night. Remember to drink plenty of water after taking the vitamin B group, as it can help with absorption.

c). Fat-soluble vitamins: Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K, and fat-soluble nutrients such as omega-3, Q10, and lutein are recommended to be taken after a meal to aid absorption with dietary fats, which is more effective.

d). Probiotics: The way to consume probiotics may vary depending on the strain. Some strains are recommended to be taken after a meal, while some experiments have shown that taking them 30 minutes before a meal is better than taking them after a meal. Some probiotics are also recommended to be taken on an empty stomach or between meals. Therefore, the actual timing of consumption should be considered based on the characteristics of each strain.

e). Calcium: The characteristic of calcium is that if the single dose exceeds 500 milligrams, the absorption rate will gradually decrease. Therefore, it is recommended to take calcium in smaller amounts multiple times throughout the day. It can be taken with or without food, but taking it after a meal is better as it can help with absorption.

f). Digestive Enzymes: Digestive enzymes are generally used to aid in the digestion of food. Studies have shown that consuming them 5 minutes before a meal is more effective than consuming them after a meal because they can help digest food right from the beginning of the meal.

g). Dietary Fiber: Dietary fiber can be divided into soluble and insoluble fiber. It is usually recommended to consume dietary fiber separately from other nutrients because its properties can potentially interfere with the absorption of other nutrients. Therefore, it is recommended to consume dietary fiber separately from other nutrients.

h). Iron: Iron is extremely important for women in general or during pregnancy. However, taking iron on an empty stomach can easily lead to discomfort in the stomach. Therefore, it is generally recommended to supplement iron after a meal. Other minerals, such as magnesium, are also recommended to be consumed after a meal.

i). UC ll/UC 2 Undenatured Type II Collagen: UC ll/UC 2 is recommended to be consumed on an empty stomach for best results. If taken after a meal, it may affect its effectiveness. Therefore, it is usually recommended to consume UC ll/UC 2 at least 2 hours before or after a meal, or on an empty stomach before bedtime for optimal results.

j). Chitosan/Phase 2 White Kidney Bean Extract: Chitosan can help inhibit the absorption of fat, while Phase 2 white kidney bean extract can help inhibit the absorption of starch. Both are recommended to be consumed immediately before a meal.

k). Collagen: Collagen can be taken on an empty stomach or after a meal. However, in terms of absorption of collagen peptides or amino acids, if you want better results, it is recommended to consume collagen on an empty stomach.

6. With Such A Large Price Difference Between Dietary supplements, Is There Really A Difference In Quality?

There is a significant price difference between nutritional products, but does the difference in price mean a difference in effectiveness? In fact, the effectiveness of dietary supplements depends not only on their concentration, purity, and dosage but also on their form; with the active form usually indicating better effectiveness, although at a higher cost. For example:

a). Chemical synthesis folic acid and active folic acid (5-MTHF): Folic acid is the most important nutrient for pregnant women, but it also plays a critical role in the health of the general population. Specifically, methylated active folic acid can promote circulation and enhance health for the general population, especially since 60% of Asians need to consume active folic acid due to genetic influences to achieve the health benefits. The price of active folic acid is several hundred times higher than that of chemically synthesized folic acid.

b). Chemical synthesis vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) and active B12 (methylcobalamin): The effectiveness of the synthesized and active forms of vitamin B12 differ by three times, and the price difference is more than a hundred times, with cyanocobalamin, synthesized chemically and priced by kilogram, being cheaper than methylcobalamin, active form, priced by gram. However, the active form's effectiveness cannot be replaced.

c). Fish oil: Fish oil comes in various forms, including unprocessed TG, concentrated EE, and re-esterified concentrated rTG forms, which differ in price due to the concentration process's influence. As for absorption, the rTG form of fish oil has the best biological utilization rate but also the highest price.

d). Vitamin D: Vitamin D is divided into vitamin D2 and vitamin D3, both of which can be absorbed, but vitamin D3 is better utilized and has a better effect in the body. The price difference between vitamin D3 and D2 is also significant.

There are many examples of how different forms can affect the effectiveness of nutritional supplements. In addition, many manufacturers may add small amounts, only as a marketing gimmick, but the actual content cannot achieve the desired effectiveness. For example, active vitamin K2 is a very expensive raw material, so many calcium products only add a small amount, around 20-40 micrograms, which is far below the recommended daily intake of 90 micrograms for women and 120 micrograms for men. This low dosage may make the product appear cheaper, but it sacrifices its effectiveness. Many other expensive nutrients, such as astaxanthin and bilberry, are also commonly added in small amounts to reduce the selling price.

The value of dietary supplements usually correlates with their ingredient content, concentration, and purity. In the field of nutrition and health products, you get what you pay for, and purchasing a high-quality supplement is an investment in one's health.

7. Do We Need To Take Dietary Supplements All The Time?

The ideal way to maintain a healthy lifestyle is through a balanced diet, regular exercise, and proper stress management. Nutritional supplements are typically taken to compensate for dietary imbalances caused by factors such as unbalanced eating habits, consuming high-fat or processed foods, consuming insufficient fruits and vegetables, and living a stressful lifestyle. Over time, these imbalances can increase the risk of potential chronic diseases and illnesses. In addition, as we age, our bodies may require additional support, such as supplements to support bone health or ease mobility challenges.

Therefore, it is recommended to take nutritional supplements long-term to avoid deficiencies caused by imbalances or aging. However, maintaining a balanced diet and regular lifestyle habits should still be the primary focus for overall health.

8. Do You Need To Switch Brands When Taking Dietary Supplements?

Taking nutritional supplements does not create dependence or habitual behavior. The fundamental issue lies in the form, purity, and concentration of the supplements themselves. If the health supplements provide highly beneficial active forms or adequate support, there is no need to switch brands. Only those supplements that truly support health can help maintain it. As long as one carefully selects supplements based on the four critical criteria, including concentration, purity, ingredient content, and forms with high absorption rates, those supplements that meet these criteria are the best dietary supplements that can bring health benefits, and there is no need to switch brands for no reason.

9. Are Liquid Dietary Supplements Better Absorbed Than Solid Forms (Capsules or Tablets)?

Nutritional supplements come in many different forms, typically classified as solid (capsules, tablets, powders), liquid (water-based, oil-based), or gummy/jelly forms. There are many details to consider in the production of dietary supplements, such as components that are sensitive to heat, such as lutein, which may lose their activity in products that require heating, such as gummy format. Moreover, the nature of the nutritional components themselves can also affect the form of the supplements and their effectiveness after consumption. For example, vitamin B complex is water-soluble and can be made into various forms, and water-soluble nutrients are usually better absorbed on an empty stomach. On the other hand, lipid-soluble nutrients, such as carotenoids and fish oil, are better absorbed in an oil-based formula. If the supplement is not oil-based, it is recommended to take it after a meal, along with the oil in the diet to increase absorption.

10. Do I Have To Take The Recommended Dosage of Dietary supplements? Can I Reduce The Number of Capsules or Dosage on My Own?

Different ingredients have different recommended dosages for their clinical effects. For example, for fish oil, the recommended dosage varies depending on the health goal, ranging from 1 gram to 3-4 grams of omega-3 per day, each with its own significant meaning. Many ingredients also have their minimum effective dose in research, which means that if consumed below the recommended amount, their health benefits may not be evident, and the expected clinical effects cannot be achieved. For instance, turmeric powder typically requires a daily dosage of around 500-2000 milligrams to achieve an effective dose in research, and thus, lower dosages may not be as noticeable, and too low dosages may have no effect at all. Therefore, in product development, nutritional supplements should aim to achieve an effective dosage, rather than adding only a minimal amount to meet marketing purposes. Moreover, it is recommended for consumers to follow the dosage instructions on the supplement label to achieve maximum effects. After all, the primary purpose of purchasing nutritional supplements is to promote health, and not consuming the recommended dosage may contradict the original intent of taking them.