The truth about Supplements
Something needs to be said…
Supplements can be very beneficial and even life saving. However, just like with anything there are pros, cons, and risks associated with consuming supplements. I do not think that there is enough consumer information available, that help us in making more informed decisions around supplements and supplementation.
Contrary to a common belief most healthy people are able to absorb adequate nutrients such as vitamins and nutrients from our foods. That is if we are eating a diverse diet that includes adequate intake of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. In cases where we are deficient or unable to absorb nutrients properly, supplements may be very helpful and beneficial to our health.
Some concerns I want to address are around regulation and usage. Although they are (somewhat) regulated by the FDA, many products that are marketed as dietary supplements contain harmful ingredients, and can even contain illegal substances. Suppliers can make various claims, that have not been proven.
Another issue is the popularity of purchasing supplements online. The problem with this is that anyone can claim to be selling a supplement (which can actually be an unsafe counterfeit product) on many of the 3rd party sites, such as Amazon. You are not completely sure what you are consuming. Even if the product is what you are supposed to be getting, it may have not been stored properly or it may have been sitting in a storage facility for months or even years. This can cause the supplement to spoil or not be as effective.
In the area of usage, it may be a good idea to test one’s levels of vitamins and minerals, before taking supplements daily. This is because many vitamins and minerals are stored away in the body, so that means they can build up in the body overtime. Yes, many vitamins and minerals are excreted as urine or feces, however the ones that do not leave the body can build up in the body and may lead to toxic levels. This is especially more of a concern if someone is taking well over the recommended doses of a supplement on a daily basis (unless prescribed). Toxicity can cause health problems that present themselves either after a short amount of time of supplementation or years down the line.
Safety is the most important thing.
Here some tips and things you may want to consider:
- Do your research on a supplement and if also on whether a supplement, vitamin or mineral will interfere with any medications you are taking.
- Try to buy supplements straight from the supplier’s store or website. Also buying them in a health food store is another option. This is more likely to ensure that you are getting a product that is not counterfeit and has been stored properly.
- It always a good idea to talk with a doctor and to test vitamin or mineral levels if possible before taking supplements regularly.