If you’re reading this, We bet you have a favourite herbal remedy. But how can you be sure that what you’re buying works the way it is supposed to, contains what the label describes, and most importantly, won’t hurt you? Answer: Increasingly, you can’t. Since people like supplements, and often think they do better with them than without them. You must pick your supplements carefully and try to get the maximum benefit out of it. Before reaching to conclusions on whether to get on a supplement, talk to your healthcare provider. They can help you achieve a balance between the foods and nutrients you need. Share this pin with your friend who is thinking about taking supplements.
DISSECTING THE TRUTH ABOUT SUPPLEMENTS - ARE YOU BETTER WITH OR WITHOUT FOOD ADDITIVES?
For some of us, food additives are a proven insurance policy from a far-from-perfect diet while others integrate them into their dietary regimen since they won't or can't access certain foods. Either way, popping mineral and vitamin additives can feel like a convenient shortcut to healthy living. Nonetheless, the real truth about supplements is, to some extent, very far from this.
You see, the ongoing debate of whether nutritional supplements are as an effective weapon against dietary deficiencies as real food is, has been going on for quite some time now. On one side of the argument there are experts who believe that supplementation through processed multivitamins is not as potent (and safe) as accessing the same elements from organic whole food sources. On the other side, they are people who have proven the importance of health-sustaining additives to our regular food, especially for people who are looking for certain results within a specific timeframe.
The bottom line, however, is that as much as supplements are without a doubt beneficial to one's health, there is a need to ensure that these additives are of the highest quality and sourced from a proven manufacturer.
THE REAL TRUTH ABOUT VITAMINS AND MINERALS - 5 POINTERS OF DIETARY SUPPLEMENTATION THAT YOU NEED TO BE AWARE OF
In order to grasp the truth about vitamins & supplements fully, it is important to first pay attention to these undeniable facts.
I. SUPPLEMENTS COME IN DIFFERENT SHAPES AND FORMS
Whether it's in liquid, powder, pills or capsules, the objective of dietary supplements is often quite straightforward; to add the missing components of your nutrition prescription to your diet with as little health hazards (if any) as possible. The supplements will, typically, contain at least one ingredient such as minerals, herbs, vitamins, enzymes, amino acids or botanicals. The most popular, in this regard, are multivitamins which are loaded with several vitamins to lighten the load of having to take several pills per day, each to supplement a given nutriment.
Speaking of which, there are certain supplements that are designed with the ease of absorption or bioavailability in mind. Actually, this is the reason your doctor or nutritional physician will at times recommend a food additive which is offered in liquid drops over one that comes in pills, capsules or lozenges. Therefore, it is important to make sure that the form of supplement that you are taking is substantially adapted to your body's ease of access to the said micronutrients. In which, some of the common dietary supplements that you are likely to come across include fish oil, ginseng, garlic, vitamin D, green tea, echinacea, St. John's wort, calcium etc. Melatonin drops are another example of a dietary supplement that is often recommended in liquid form for improved bioavailability and absorption.
II. WHILE SOME SUPPLEMENTS ARE QUITE EFFECTIVE, THERE ARE OTHERS WHICH ARE HARDLY MORE THAN JUST A WASTE OF YOUR MONEY
There's a reason supplements and mineral additives have become widely popular in the last decade or so - they work. When used in conjunction with a balanced diet, there is an overwhelming evidence that food additives and supplements can be quite beneficial in boosting your overall healthiness with little to zero risk at all.
Vitamin B12, for example, has cemented its reputation as the go-to supplement for people who are looking to keep their blood cells and nerve cells healthy or keep anaemia at bay. Folic acid, on the other hand, has been proven to reduce the probability of birth defects occurring when taken by an expectant mother. The same applies to Vitamin D pills which strengthens bones or calcium drops that promote one's bone health. Vitamin E and C are known to prevent cell damage by oxidative stress, the same way fish oil is paramount in supporting heart health. Senior citizens who take vitamin A supplements regularly have been observed to suffer less from age-related eye macular degeneration and zinc is a renowned promoter of excellent vision and skin/hair healthiness. Liquid L Theanine has been studied for its potential effects on reducing anxiety and improving cognitive performance. And if you are a regular jet-setter, then you probably already know that melatonin is quite effective in counteracting jet lag.
That being said, regardless of the mammoth and indepth research that has been poured into the food additives and supplements niche over the past two decades, there's still lacking water-tight scientific evidence of some of the purported benefits of most multivitamins. Studies, for instance, suggest that a religious adoption of multi-vitamins won't necessarily make you live longer, avoid age-related cognitive decline or lower the chances of contracting lifestyle diseases such as diabetes or certain cancers.
Speaking of which, it is actually illegal and irresponsible for companies and manufacturers to make outright claims that their supplements can diagnose, treat, eliminate, cure or treat specific illnesses. What's more, the supplements that you can access through online stores or at your nearest pharmacy could be very different from the ones used in the studies that most companies love to quote when marketing their products to you.
III. SUPPLEMENTS ARE NOT ALWAYS 100% RISK-FREE
Yes, contrary to what the popular media purports, using supplements isn't always safe or completely risk-free. While in most cases using multi-vitamins is not likely to result in any adverse health complications, it is still vital to be cautious of what we consume particularly if we are doing it on a regular basis.
Case in point, it is not uncommon for some food additives to interact with other medications that we are taking for managing long-term chronic conditions such as kidney failure, hypertension or diabetes. Some supplements are also known to aggravate certain medical complications such as liver disease or introduce an unknown risk factor when a patient is going under the surgeon's knife. In the same breath, some supplements available over the counter have not been sufficiently tested in a big enough demographic of special persons such as nursing mothers, pregnant women or children under the age of five. It goes without saying that you will have to be extra-vigilant when using mineral or vitamin supplements if you fall in any of the above categories.
In addition to this, remember that federal regulations for typical dietary supplements are not as strict as those governing the manufacture of prescription drugs. Hence, it is not rare for some supplements to contain additional ingredients that are not listed on its product sheet or label, which could be unsafe for you or an underlying condition that you have. A 2010 research shows that a good chunk of mainstream dietary supplements contain ingredients that are usually reserved for prescription drugs only in a bid to artificially improve their effectiveness in the management or 'treating' of chronic ailments. Although this is done with a noble intention, it can pose a serious fatal health risk to unsuspecting users when these hidden active ingredients interact with other components of their regular prescription medication.
Speaking of risks, Vitamin K supplements are known to reduce the effectiveness of prescription blood thinners. Gingko, on the side of the spectrum, can increase unwanted blood thinning just as indiscriminate use of certain herbal supplements such as kava and comfrey could damage the liver. St John's wort, a popular health supplement , can make other drugs such as birth control and antidepressants less effective. Vitamin A and Beta-carotene food additives, which are quite popular nowadays, can significantly increase the risk of carcinoma lung cancer in chain smokers.
Finally, an overdose of multivitamins, supplements or even mineral additives can have adverse toxic effects. Thus, it is advisable to familiarize yourself with the proper recommended dosage to minimize the chances of suffering accidental overdose that can be counteractive rather than productive. Get into a habit of checking the daily value % for supplemented nutrients as well the calorific value of your food intake against the recommended daily amount. Stay clear of the upper limit of this value as too much of a given mineral or vitamin can do more harm than good.
IV. ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR PERSONAL HEALTHCARE PROVIDER BEFORE BEGINNING THE USE OF ANY SUPPLEMENTS
One of the most vital aspects when it comes to using supplements is to be smart and vigilant when choosing the additive to integrate into your dietary regimen. The first step, even before spending any resources on the supplement, is to discuss your options at length with your physician or healthcare provider. As mentioned earlier, a supplement's safety and effectiveness could depend on your individual health and situation.
On top of that, it is paramount to take the following simple tips into consideration when choosing or using the supplements.
- Always take the supplements strictly according to the instructions from the manufacturer or advice from your healthcare provider.
- Read the product sheet or at least the label of the supplement before commencing use. Take note, especially, of the ingredients, percent daily value (also known as the % DV), any drug interactions.
- Be extremely wary of any claims such as "works better than a certain prescription drugs" or "100% safe".
- Have it at the back of your mind that the terms "natural" or "organic" does not necessarily mean "completely safe".
- All supplements should be stored away from the reach of children, even if they are meant to be taken by the same children.
V. WHILE SUPPLEMENTS ARE COOL, NOTHING CAN REPLACE THE ESSENCE AND NUTRIENT POWER OF A WELL-BALANCED HEALTHY DIET
Regardless of your goal or specific objectives when including supplements in your dietary plan, they are not a replacement for a proper nutrient-dense and balanced diet. Just like the name suggests, supplements are meant to be an accompaniment or supplementary. In other words, this means that they improve the benefits of eating a well-rounded nutritious diet.
Food additives and supplements are not intended to be used as an alternative to real wholesome food. A capsule or pill made in a factory cannot simply match the immense benefits of eating a nutrient-packed salad or well-prepared fish. Minerals and vitamins are key to aiding your body function and develop as it should given the tight tolerances it is allowed to work within. While a majority of people can get what's recommended by simply eating healthy, some of us may need a little help and nutrient boost. This is where supplements and mineral additives come in - not before you have made an effort to start eating healthy to begin with.
As such, the inclusion of multivitamins should always be done from the approach of trying to fill in the gaps left by eating wholesome foods or correcting serious medical deficiencies. During pregnancy, for instance, nutritional studies suggest that women require plenty of iron and sufficient vitamin D when breastfeeding later after the child is born. It, therefore, goes without saying that supplementation to complement what is derived from dietary sources and fortified foods is necessary.
Still on this, there are obvious groups of people who for one reason or another have to rely on supplements to boost their intake of crucial micronutrients such as zinc, copper and vitamin B12. Vegans and vegetarians, for instance, who cannot eat fish, meat or dairy products - the primary sources of zinc - have to consider taking a supplement to boost what they can get from secondary sources such as broccoli and spinach.
CONCLUSION - WE WILL TELL YOU HOW TO CHOOSE HIGH-QUALITY SUPPLEMENTS
To round up the truth about supplements and vitamins, is a snippet on two of the most important things to consider when choosing safe, effective and high-quality supplements. For starters, the supplements preparation criterion ought to be your first point of scrutiny. This includes the list of ingredients, their interaction with each other, their interaction with the body's biochemistry and the role played by each component vis-a-vis the ratio of nutrients. This will significantly eliminate the chances of you buying a worthless supplement or, even worse, one that could make you sick.
Secondly, the purity and quality of the dietary supplement in question should always be put on a weighing scale before spending your hard-earned money on it. A baseline and reliable indicator of purity and quality is that the manufacturer adheres to GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) guidelines to the letter. These standards were laid by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a way of ensuring that the facility in question observes a set of minimum processing and formulation guidelines that are used as a benchmark in the production of dietary supplements.
Lastly, a quality, reputable and reliable manufacturer will enlist third-party inspectors and independent labs to evaluate their ingredients sourcing and formulation processes as a way of assessing their overall product quality.