Vitamins and supplements are big business these days. The multi-million pound industry shows no signs of slowing down, but the question is are supplements and vitamins worth paying for? If you look online, you’ll find a lot of conflicting reviews and information. Some experts claim vitamins and supplements do have a positive effect on the health, while others claim they are a complete waste of money. So what’s the truth? Do they work or are you just throwing away your hard earned cash?
Understanding the purpose of vitamins and supplements
There is definitely a place for vitamins and supplements in our daily health, however, they don’t play as large a role as many people think. What you need to understand is that supplements are designed to fill a very small nutritional gap. They are not designed to replace the nutrients you get from your daily diet. You should always aim to eat a healthy, nutrient packed diet in order to give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs.
Supplements will never work if you are relying solely upon them for your daily nutrients. They aren’t a substitute, but they can help to fill any nutritional gaps you may have.
Providing you do only use supplements as a small addition to your healthy daily diet, they can actually have a positive effect on your health. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, it isn’t possible to get all of the necessary nutrients your body needs from food alone. That’s where supplements and vitamins come in.
The main benefit supplements provide is they help to prevent vitamin deficiencies. If you lack Vitamin D, iron, calcium or potassium for example, it could lead to the development of numerous illnesses. By taking a supplement to give your body the nutrients it is lacking, you can prevent these deficiencies and therefore maintain good health.
A good example of when vitamins and supplements can help to improve the health is in the case of postmenopausal women. A study was carried out by the National Institutes of Health which showed postmenopausal women who took Vitamin D and calcium supplements reduced their risk of fractures and improved their overall bone density.
So there is no denying that they can help, it’s just knowing which supplements you need.
While they can certainly be beneficial, vitamins and supplements aren’t without potential risks. The main one you need to be aware of is the fact you can take too much. While deficiencies can be harmful to the health, too much of a specific vitamin or mineral can also have harmful effects. Did you know that the majority of supplements contain at least 100% of the daily recommended dose? So if you are getting a lot of nutrients already from your daily diet, a supplement could potentially cause you to have too much.
It is also a common misconception that as vitamins and supplements are considered natural, they are 100% safe to take. This unfortunately isn’t always the case. Some supplements have the potential to react with conventional medications. So if you’re taking any form of medication, you should consult a doctor or at least do as much research as you can before deciding to take supplements.
Not all supplements are created equal
One of the biggest problems in the natural health industry, weight loss and legal steroids is that not all supplements are effective. There are a lot of bogus sellers out there who create ineffective products purely to make money. So when buying vitamins and supplements you need to ensure you are investing in a well-known brand from a reliable seller such as a health food store.
Getting the balance just right
In order to ensure you’re taking the right supplements, as well as the correct dosage, it is always worth consulting your doctor. They will be able to assess your overall health and determine whether you do have a need for a specific supplement. It is especially important to consult a doctor before taking vitamins and supplements if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Becoming familiar with clinical studies
In order to avoid wasting your money on ineffective supplements, it is worth doing research into the clinical studies that have been carried out. For example, the majority of studies conducted on the benefits of Vitamin C supplements have shown them to be largely ineffective. The same is true with a lot of multi-vitamins out there. While they make huge, impressive claims, unfortunately the results just don’t back them up.
Overall vitamins and supplements can be effective and beneficial in the right circumstances. However, they should never be used as a substitute for a good, healthy diet. Use them only to fill small nutritional gaps and be sure to research the supplement you are thinking of taking thoroughly before you invest.