Supplements: Do We Really Need Them?

by Mirdza Hayden - Date: 2007-01-24 - Word Count: 569 Share This!

People who wish they can just take a "magical pill" and all their health problems will be solved seem to think so. Companies that spend billions of dollars producing supplements make you believe that you do. Yes, some companies do make supplements that are better absorbed by the body then others, but the question is: do you REALLY NEED a supplement?

Think about it this way: our bodies can get their nutrients from the foods that we eat. In fact, if we start taking supplements we might wrongly think we are healthy enough that we don't need to eat properly. Also, the nutrients that we take in from these supplements might actually interfere in the absorption of other vitamins and minerals. For example "zinc hinders copper and calcium absorption, iron hinders zinc absorption, calcium hinders iron absorption…" (from "Nutrition Concepts and Controversies" by Frances Sizer and E. Whitney). Besides, many times we can overdose on vitamins and minerals if we take a supplement and that can cause many health problems.

Overdosing on vitamins and minerals in pretty common, unfortunately, and people don't even realize it. One report from the Center of Disease Control estimated nutrient overdoses in 1990 at more than 1300, and people are taking more supplements today then they did then! Many people prescribe themselves all different sorts of supplements and they really think they are doing it for their health. Unfortunately, they might be causing themselves more harm than good.

It is best to get your vitamins and minerals, as well as other nutrients, directly from the foods we eat. We need to learn to eat a balanced diet made up of lots of veggies, fruits, whole grains, proteins and a small amount of fat, while reducing the amount of refined sugar we take in. We need to eat a variety of different colored fruits and veggies, including berries that are high in antioxidants. The protein we take in should come from lean meats, poultry or fish, as well as legumes and yogurt.

There ARE some people that MAY need to take supplements. The book "Nutrition Controversies and Concepts" by F. Sizer tells us what groups of people do:

-Pregnant women (may need iron)
-Newborns (may need a doses of vitamin K
-Those who are lactose intolerant (may need extra calcium)
-Habitual dieters (since they might not eat sufficient amounts of food)
-Elderly people who have trouble chewing
-Those with various diseases like AIDS, cancer, etc.
-Drug and alcohol addicts
-Those recovering from surgery, burns, injury and illness
-Strict vegetarians (may need B12, D, iron and zinc)

In conclusion, if you don't fit in any of the categories mentioned above, don't take a supplement unless your doctor recommends that you do. It is important that you eat a proper diet that includes lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, protein, fiber and a small amount of fat. If you do need to take a supplement, decide what type you would like to take - chewable, liquid or pill. Remember, if you take a chewable one and it has vitamin C, make sure you chew it quickly and then rinse your mouth out with water since vitamin C on your teeth for a long period of time may erode your teeth. Also, make sure that the amounts listed on the bottle are below or the same as the RDA. When it comes to nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, more is NOT necessarily better!

Related Tags: health, supplements, vitamins, body, minerals, nutrients

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*For more on avocados and other great foods to eat, read the book "Superfoods Healthstyle", by Steven G. Pratt, M.D. and Kathy Matthews.

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