Supplements must be safe because they’re natural.
NOT ALWAYS. Plants and other natural products have been used for thousands of years to maintain health and treat illness, and many are helpful. However, you should never assume that just because a health product is “natural,” it is automatically “safe.” Like conventional drugs, herbal medicines and other natural products may have potentially serious side effects or trigger allergic reactions. These supplements may also affect how your prescription drugs work. Talk to your doctor before you take any supplements, including herbal or botanical supplements, Chinese, Ayurvedic, or other traditional medicines. You should do this, especially if you have a medical condition. Your doctor can tell you which supplements may be helpful, which may have adverse side effects and how the supplements will interact with any medications you may be taking. You should also speak with your pharmacist before taking any supplements.
Calcium and vitamin D
Calcium works together with other bone-building nutrients – particularly vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium – to maintain strong and healthy bones and teeth. Eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin D throughout your life, combined with regular physical activity, will help prevent osteoporosis. With osteoporosis, your bones become smaller, more fragile, and more likely to break. In Canada, one in four women and one in eight men over the age of 50 have osteoporosis. Recent studies have also shown that eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin D will help protect against muscle weakness, which in turn will help prevent falls. Seniors should consume 1200 mg of calcium and 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D a day from food sources and/or supplements. Seniors over 70 years of age may require up to 800 IU a day. If you already have osteoporosis, your doctor may recommend even higher amounts of calcium and vitamin D.