Vitamin Supplements: Hype or Help for Your Vitality?
Parents and teachers run after children to keep a constant and uncompromised check on their diet.
But as the children grow older and start to take decisions, dal-chawal and sabzi-roti get replaced by burgers and pizzas, and milk and soups by cola and beer. More often than not this is accompanied with eating at awkward times (like 1 am in the night).
We have all come across the thought of consuming supplements as a quick fix for a poor diet. But, according to many nutrition experts, supplements are nothing but money-spinners for multi-billion dollar nutrition companies and offer very little in terms of health and vitality.
Let’s learn about the two sides of the coin called “supplements”.
Who Might Actually Need Supplements
A supplement is a thing added to something else in order to enhance it, whereas vitamins are natural substances usually found in your food and help you stay healthy.
Expecting vitamins to be a magic cure for diseases may be overreaching but certain people will certainly benefit from taking some nutritional supplements:
- Cocooning people
Vitamin D is meant for people who are constantly sitting indoors and are deprived of the sun. Vitamin D is essential for the body as it helps in absorbing calcium in the gut and in building strong bones. If you think you have a deficiency of Vitamin D, check with your doctor. A simple blood test can make things clear.
- Vegans and the elderly
Vitamin B12 helps increase the count of red blood cells and helps in proper functioning of the brain system. Because it is mainly found in meat products and dairy products, vegans might be at a big risk.
An alternative is to consume soy products, nutritional yeast or a cereal that can be mixed well with oatmeal or sprinkled on salads.
- Pregnant women
Pregnant women need folic acid because it is very important for proper prenatal development and protects against babies being born with neural tube defects. It is generally found in vegetables, grains, and meat.
Doctors routinely prescribe folic acid supplements to pregnant women, usually in the form of prenatal vitamins.
- People who have undergone operation
After an operation, for example after the removal of parts of the stomach or the intestine, the body might find it difficult to assimilate enough quantities of vitamins and minerals and might even face other issues like dehydration. For example, the duodenum absorbs Vitamins A, D, E, and K while the ileum absorbs Vitamin B12 and they are both crucial in the digestion process.
You should always follow the advice of your doctor after an operation.
Reasons To Avoid Supplements
Supplements might turn out to be counter-productive in cases such as the following.
- You can take too many vitamins
Certain vitamins, especially the fat-soluble ones, can be overdosed. Overdose can range from mild to severe and include symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, heart palpitations, difficulty in breathing and a whole slew of other problems.
There is no standard maximum pill size in the market for supplements. This can pose a risk for old people.
- Some vitamins don’t work well
Some solid pills have actually been found to pass through your digestive system without being properly absorbed. If you are going to take a multivitamin, navigate away from traditional pills and opt for a liquid, chewable or a gel capsule.
- Supplements can present a safety issues
There is no safety testing or FDA approval required before a new supplement goes to the market.
Many supplements contain three or more hidden pharmaceuticals: erectile dysfunction drugs, antidepressants, anabolic steroids, etc., and some of the hidden drugs have never been approved by the FDA. You might not even be getting sufficient amounts of vitamins which you think you are consuming!
It is our firm belief that the parents’ and teachers’ job does not just end with administering balanced and nutritious meals. To teach children the importance of different nutrition groups to children is other half of the job! One of the biggest problems is that people assume supplements are a replacement for a balanced diet.
On the other side, as per various surveys, it was found that a lot of the population, particularly young women, is not able to achieve essential amounts of vitamin intakes.
Supplements containing recommended amounts of nutrients may be useful when a balanced diet is not possible but you should always ask your doctor first. The main emphasis should still always be on improving diet so that you can deal with the problem in the healthiest and safest manner possible.
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information.
- Harvard Health Publishing, ‘The benefits of vitamin supplements’, official website (accessed on 20th April, 2020)
- National Health Service, ‘Do I need vitamin supplements’, official NHS website (accessed on 20th April, 2020)
- Food and Drug Administration, ‘What You Need to Know about Dietary Supplements’, official FDA website (accessed on 20th April, 2020)
- Harvard Health Publishing, ‘The hidden dangers of dietary supplements’, official website (accessed on 20th April, 2020)
- Harvard Health Publishing, ‘Harmful effects of supplements can send you to the emergency department’, official website (accessed on 20th April, 2020)
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