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There are a few mistakes we make when taking supplements, which include vitamins, minerals, fibers or herbs.

1. Forgetting that food should be first – Why? In most cases our bodies do a better job absorbing fiber, vitamins and minerals in the form of food – and it's also less expensive.

2. Not telling your doctor and pharmacist you are taking supplements – Why? Supplements can interact with prescription medication. In some cases, they can increase the effect and in others they can decrease the effect. Either may prove dangerous. Always tell your physician what supplements you're taking. If you're prescribed a new medication, check with your pharmacist about interactions with supplements as well as foods. 

3. Taking supplements that do the same thing – Why? For example, if you are taking fish oil (omega 3 fatty acids) as well as flax seed oil (omega 3 fatty acids) at the same time, both will prevent or slow blood clotting, which may make you prone to bruising. In the event of an accident or surgery, that could mean your blood will not be able to clot as quickly as needed.

4. Taking supplements instead of prescription medication – Why? Supplements and prescription medication are not regulated the same way. Prescription medications are researched and tested and must have the ingredients listed. Supplements frequently do not go through the same level of testing or controls, and there can be issues with quality and purity.

For more information on supplements, visit https://ods.od.nih.gov.

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