Nutrition Wednesday: Do you Need to Take Supplements?

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Are supplements necessary?

On one of my healthy kicks I bought some multi-vitamins to improve my health. Since I’m not really a pill taking person, I used a few and the rest just ended up in the trash when they expired. Half of Americans take some type of supplement, and most of them do not need to. Yes, if you are pregnant or lose to much iron during your period, please take some supplements! Or, if your doctor prescribes supplements for an existing problem (such as not meeting nutrient needs from food, etc.) you should take them. Here are some rules to apply to supplement intake unless otherwise recommended by your doctor:

  • Most people get enough nutrients from their diets, and these are the typical supplement takers… so if you fall into this category, knock it off and quit wasting money!
  • Usually taking unnecessary supplements isn’t harmful (phew!), but sometimes it is….
  • Taking too much of a supplement, let’s say iron, can be toxic for your body.
  • Supplements are not approved by the FDA, although the FDA can ban ones that cause problems. Basically, the safety of a supplement is questionable. Natural remedies can have banned drugs as part of their makeup, while brand names can have toxically high traces of different minerals and vitamins that is labeled otherwise on their products.
  • PLEASE do NOT take supplements instead of seeing a doctor. They know what’s best, that’s why they studied for 10,000 years (okay maybe like 8)! Taking too much of a supplement whose claim to fame seems too good to be true, is too good to be true.
  • Your body wants freaking food, not supplements. It absorbs nutrients better from real food, so start eating a balanced meal and stop taking supplements that interfere with the absorption of the nutrients in foods and other supplements.
  • Supplements that have herbs in them = don’t touch!
  • Most studies found that supplements don’t really aid in cancer prevention (bummer, I know… someday we’ll find the cure!)

Listen, we live in countries that are struggling with obesity and getting too much nutrition. The likelihood that you need a supplement to aid you in gaining more nutrition just seems ridiculous. Stop eating crap and start eating your veggies and fruits! It’s as simple as that. Oh, and while you’re at it, go for a run, or a swim, or a bike ride… or do some other form of exercise because we all need it as a society!

If you’re wondering how you know if you need to take supplements, I highly suggest you talk to your physician about it. Here’s a list of people who commonly NEED to take supplements:

  • you are pregnant
  • capable of becoming pregnant (I’m talking about you planning mommies to be!)
  • the nutrient deficient population
  • newborns and infants
  • lactose intolerant folks (as if they don’t suffer enough without ice cream…)
  • people who are obsessed with dieting, like 24/7 dieters…
  • elder people
  • people with AIDS and other such illnesses
  • vegetarians and vegans
  • surgery patients
  • medicated people whose drugs don’t allow their bodies to use nutrients right
  • alcoholics and drug addicts

And I’m sure there are others, so ask your doctor if you think you may need to take supplements!

Please note that I am *not* a nutritionist or nutrition expert, this is information based on my own knowledge and experience that I took away from the book Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies by Sizer and Whitney. Please consult a doctor before starting any nutrition routine, taking any supplements, or prescribing to any diet. 

Do you take a mult-vitamin? Do you still see a purpose in taking it?

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