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Monitoring Dietary Supplement Use continued...

These increases are due in part to the down economy, he says, “More people are self-treating with vitamins and other supplements, so the numbers are higher.”

”It’s important that we continue to monitor dietary supplement use to make sure that we are not going over the recommended amounts and not reaching the upper limits of intake for any vitamin or mineral,” Gahche says. The upper limit refers to the upper level of intake that is considered to be safe.

“Americans and health care providers need to factor in all the source of nutrients including vitamin waters and nutrition bars because they do add up and can exceed upper limits,” Cooperman says. “You can definitely get too much of a good thing.”

When it comes to supplements, “be selective, use them in moderation, and don’t overdo it, and realize that the products can contain many times the amount that is good for you,” he says.

Some supplements may interfere with the action of other medications you take, increasing their side effects or rendering them ineffective. “Make sure your health care provider is aware of everything that you take,” Cooperman says.

A recent survey shows that most Americans may not be having this conversation with their health care providers. The survey, conducted by the American Association of Retired People and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, found that 53% of people say they have used complementary and alternative medicine at some point -- including dietary supplements -- but just 58% discussed it with a health care provider.

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