The medical community is being split into two warring factions lately on the subject of whether supplementary medicines – vitamin supplements, for instance – are in general good or not. In this article, we tell you why you need not fear supplements, what their function is, and what to keep in mind while taking them.
In recent years, there has been growing hysteria regarding the practice of ‘pill popping’. The layman with no training or experience in medicine understandably views all kinds of ‘artificial’ supplements with scorn and suspicion, and some doctors from within the medical community are discouraging the use of supplements in favour of more ‘natural’ diet forms.
However, it must be noted that while the natural form of diet is the preferred manner in which we should all get our nutrients, it is also true that for the vast majority of us, in spite of our full efforts, there might be some holes in our diet that may need plugging.
Here are a few reasons why taking supplements should not be discouraged.
- No one can have a balanced diet at all times
The human body needs a precarious balance of vitamins, minerals and micronutrients that demand a balanced diet. These days, for example, with lots of people working indoors, deficiency of Vitamin D has become quite common in developing countries like India, a country in which Vitamin D deficiencies were not known until the previous generation. So it is true that in spite of all our efforts, sometimes, our diets will be found wanting, and as a precautionary measure, taking a vitamin and micronutrient supplement will prevent problems that might arise from a deficiency.
- Research shows that they prevent many diseases
They say prevention is better than cure. Diseases caused by vitamin and mineral deficiencies can range from tricky to downright dangerous, and research around the world has shown that people who are on moderate to regular supplements are much lower on the risk scale with respect to deficiency diseases. The vitamins in supplements might be artificially synthesised, but our bodies cannot make out the difference.
- Excess vitamins do not harm the body
There is a misconception that taking supplements can harm the body and lower its immunity. In actual fact, if you happen to take excess vitamins in supplement form, which your body doesn’t need, it will pass it off in urine. There are obvious upper limits to keep in mind with these pills (i.e.: do not take a whole strip of them in an afternoon, for instance), but as long as you stay around your physician’s recommended dosage, you will be fine.
- They’re supplements, not substitutes
Vitamin and micronutrient supplements should not be used as excuses to go easy on your diet. One should remember that they’re supplements, designed to fill any gaps that your diet is leaving in your body requirements. They should not be used as substitutes. You should by all means still strive to have a balanced, varied diet to taste and nutritional value. Using your pills as substitutes for natural forms of nutrition will make you lazy and unhealthy over the long term because you’re not eating well.
All in all, supplements are your friends, but they’re not superdrugs that will solve all of your problems. They’re a wonderful source of vitamins and minerals that you might be missing in your diet, and they offer a great checkpoint for you to examine your diet and make necessary changes.
One thing to remember, though: always follow your physician’s recommended dosage.