It is vital to consult with a health care provider before taking OTC vitamins and supplements.
OTC health supplements and vitamins do not require a prescription and can be found in many different places, such as grocery stores and drugstores, whether you prefer to shop online or in person.1
People who struggle to obtain all the essential nutrients they need from their regular diet sometimes turn to OTC products for extra benefits based on preference, including liquids, powders, gummies, etc—with each type having various options available depending on packaging.2
Beyond just boosting mineral intake, people also typically use OTC products to treat specific ailments needed to function at optimum levels.1
OTC nutrients and enhancements can be grouped by classification, such as multivitamins, plant supplements, specialty supplements, amino acids, and individual nutrients and minerals. These supplements provide the body with various essential nutrients and are generally used to fill nutritional gaps.1
Single vitamins and minerals are individual nutrients that supplement a particular deficiency, such as vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, and iron.1 Botanical supplements are derived from plants or plant extracts.
Numerous advantages can be gained from taking OTC vitamins and supplements. They can assist in compensating for gaps in nourishment, work on general well-being, and potentially help to forestall and treat specific illnesses.1 OTC products can help provide the vitamins and minerals needed to live a healthy life by filling in the gaps of a poor diet.1
Taking OTC nutrients and enhancements can help with certain illnesses, such as scurvy and rickets, and can assist with explicit ailments, such as frailty and osteoporosis.2
OTC vitamins and supplements can cause various AEs depending on the ingredients. Skin rashes, nausea, vomiting, and hives are some common AEs of taking OTCs.3 Some vitamins and supplements may also result in the body having higher or lower levels of certain medications.3
Supplements and vitamins can sometimes cause severe allergic reactions, such as anaphylaxis. Taking vitamins and supplements in large quantities for a long term can also harm critical organs, such as the kidneys or liver.2 Therefore, it is essential to consult a physician to ensure the safety of any OTCs.
The recommended dosage and frequency of OTC vitamins and supplements depend on the supplement type and the person taking them. Generally, it is recommended to consult a health care professional before starting to take supplements and to follow the packaging instructions.
For most OTC vitamins and supplements, taking 1 to 2 capsules or tablets daily with food is recommended unless otherwise stated on the packaging.4Some products may require more frequent daily doses. It is also essential to consider each nutrient's recommended daily allowance when taking a vitamin or supplement.4
The RDA is the amount of each nutrient necessary for the body to function correctly and should not be exceeded.
The FDA regulates OTC vitamins and supplements. For the accessories to be sold OTC, they must fulfill specific standards.4
The FDA monitors product manufacturing processes to ensure they adhere to quality standards. Likewise, manufacturers are expected to give honest and exact marking data, incorporating insights concerning the fixings, measurements, and possible aftereffects.5 Lastly, scientific evidence must be used by manufacturers to back up the health claims they make about their products.
In conclusion, when taken as directed, OTC vitamins and supplements can benefit some people. Nevertheless, it is crucial to remember that OTCs are not substitutes for a healthy diet and should not be used to replace food. It is also vital to consult a health care provider before taking OTCs.
1. Rupal Mansukhani P, Ammie J. Patel P. OTC Case Studies: Vitamins and Supplements. Pharmacy Times. 2022;88. Accessed April 1, 2023. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/view/vitamins-and-supplements
2. Achari M, Haider M, Mohammed Z. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) Toxicity and OTC Supplements (5222). Neurology. 2021;96(15 Supplement). Accessed April 1, 2023. https://n.neurology.org/content/96/15_Supplement/5222.abstract
3. Charen E, Harbord N. Toxicity of Herbs, Vitamins, and Supplements. Advances in Chronic Kidney Disease. 2020;27(1):67-71. doi: https://doi.org/10.1053/j.ackd.2019.08.003
4. Zamil DH. Do You Know How to Assess Risks Posed by Over-the-Counter Vitamin A Supplements? AMA Journal of Ethics. 2022;24(5):E376-381. doi: https://doi.org/10.1001/amajethics.2022.376
5. Stern KL, Canvasser N, Borofsky M, et al. Alkalinizing Agents: A Review of Prescription, Over-the-Counter, and Medical Food Supplements. Journal of Endourology. 2020;34(1):1-6. doi: https://doi.org/10.1089/end.2019.0292