Health Education Nutrition

Focus on Food and Not Supplements

Vitamins and mineral supplements are a good way to supply your body with nutrients that you might not be getting from your diet. Go down any vitamin aisle in a pharmacy, supermarket, or health food store. The first thing you will see is all the ‘natural’ supplements and vitamin complex tablets that all claim to provide all kinds of benefits.  There are supplements that claim to help you lose weight without exercise. Does it sound too good to be true? Of course it is. What about supplements for hair, skin, and nails. If only they worked and truly did help you grow thicker and healthier hair!  If you are considering adding supplements to your diet, having a discussion with your doctor or qualified nutritionist will help to determine whether or not adding supplements would be beneficial for you or not.

Are vitamins necessary for optimum health?  Most people, if they eat a healthy diet, do not need them.  Most vitamins are fine and are not harmful.  If someone does not eat a healthy diet or because of illness has a limited diet, a vitamin supplement could be very helpful. Fruits and vegetables have important vitamins in them and should not be eliminated from a diet unless a doctor or nutritionist recommends it. In this case a supplement would almost be necessary.  Your body needs vitamins to keep it functioning. 

Most people think that vitamins are a source of energy but that is not the case. Vitamins help regulate the body’s metabolism. Vitamins also help the food we eat to release its energy. It’s the food that when absorbed and broken down into the nutrients the body can use that provides our body with energy. The body more easily absorbs calcium if you are also taking Vitamin D.  Most calcium supplements are already fortified with vitamin D. There are thirteen vitamins that are all important to achieve optimum health. Vitamins E & C contain antioxidants. Antioxidants help to release free radicals, which are high-energy particles. These high-energy particles damage healthy blood cells. Studies are now coming out that indicate that the consumption of vitamins and supplements may aid in fighting cancer and preventing other chronic diseases. The research is by no means conclusive in this regard. Studies continue to be conducted in an effort to provide us with the ultimate health.

There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.  An excess amount of vitamins in your system could cause bleeding along with negative interactions with some prescription medications. 

Listed below are some vitamins and how overdoses can affect you.

Vitamin A – Too much vitamin A can cause neurological problems

Vitamin D – Too much vitamin D disrupts the balance of calcium in the body that can lead to calcium deposits in the soft tissues of the body.

Vitamin C – Too much vitamin C can lessen the effectiveness of other medications and cause diarrhoea.

Vitamin E – Too much vitamin E can cause blood not to clot and can cause other bleeding issues.

Vitamins are just one tool among many that are available to us to help us get healthy and remain healthy. Vitamins alone will not do this. A healthy diet, exercise, stress management, proper amounts of sleep and regular health checkups will do this.  

No one knows better than I do how important it is to eat properly and take care of my body. Also, like many others I have a tendency to be drawn to junk food (in particular chocolate is my weak spot) much to my own detriment. You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to get some exercise in. The only supplement I take at the moment is a vitamin D and that is because its the winter months and I am aware of the dosage that is safe for me to consume.

There are a variety of opinions about vitamins, supplements, and healthy eating.  Vitamins are generally ok unless they are fortified with iron.  The effectiveness of vitamins with iron is often hotly debated. Too much iron can cause iron overload and it doesn’t get ‘washed’ out of the blood as efficiently if at all.  There is a disease called Hemochromatosis, which is fatal, as it attacks liver function. It can be controlled and there must be liver function tests done among other things.  The controversy continues to reign. Hence many children’s multivitamins do not contain iron.

You have complete control in this area. Do your research; there are a great number of websites that provide information on supplements and how they work. You should sit down with your physician or nutritionist and discuss your options. Get smart and be healthy.  A little knowledge is a very good thing and in the case of vitamins the more you know how they work and how they could be harmful, the safer and healthier you will be. Trust your instincts, know your body, and get help if you need it. Good eating, good exercise, plenty of water and common sense will help you to meet your goal of good health.

It is also advisable that you do not get supplement recommendations from friends and family. You should be cautious with getting recommendations from other health professionals such as personal trainers and sales consultants. Ensure that the person you are speaking to is fully qualified to give out recommendations for supplements.

Any questions, comment below.

Wishing you health and happiness,

Varsha

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