What cautions to take when you take vitamin supplements?

If you are already taking any vitamin, mineral or probiotic tablet or capsules, you should make sure that you are not doing yourself any harm, which could come from taking the wrong formulation, taking them for too long or from drug-drug interaction with any other drugs that you might be taking

In most instances, none of the other concerns are valid, but  check out the information below to be absolutely sure that you are doing no harm to yourself

If you decide to go for supplements of any nutrients, go through the information below which will help you choose wisely:

  1. Choose the safe formulation

For most supplements, the commonly available formulations are safe, but for Vitamin A and Vitamin D supplements, it is important to choose the inactive formulations, unless your doctor advises you to take the active ones. Check out the table below 

Nutrient Inactive form

(safe form)

Active form

(could be harmful in high dose)

Vitamin A  Pro-vitamin A or carotenoids (e.g. beta carotene) Retinol and retinyl esters
Vitamin D Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) or D3(cholecalciferol) Calcitriol or calcidiols (25 OH Vitamin D)
  1. Safe and adequate dosage:

The dose of supplement should be somewhere in between RDA and ULs defined for the nutrient

RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance or Intake) or DV (Daily Value) of any nutrient is the amount which if consumed regularly will adequately cover the body’s need for nearly all people in the chosen population

UL (Upper Limit of safe intake) is the amount of a nutrient that can be taken safely over a long period of time and will not result in adverse effects in most of us

To know the RDAs and UL of common supplements, check out this table

If you have been taking any supplements for some time, check out whether or not their long term use can have any side effects. Check out this table for toxicities of common supplements

  1. Drug interactions:

Some supplements may have effects on the drugs you take or vice versa, thus the effectiveness of either the drug or the supplements may be adversely effected. Make sure that you are aware of them and discuss with your doctor, if necessary

Check out this table for drug interactions

Now that you are armed with all this information, go and select a pill or capsule which fulfills these criteria and be safe in using them

If, you do not take any supplements, it would be good to find out whether you need any, since Indian population is deficient in a lot of vitamins and minerals, to find out, go to ‘Supplements: should you be taking anySupplements: should you be taking any?’

CHECK OUT: Our references for recommendations on supplements