Many of us like to think we're doing the best for our health. We try to eat well, exercise and maybe take a few supplements. But what if our supplements are actually doing more harm than good? Do we know exactly what we're taking and what it's doing to our body?
Of course, there are situations where supplements are needed. For example, if you've been advised by your doctor, or if you have certain health conditions. However, the majority of people should be able to get the nutrition they need from natural foods. So what are the downfalls that we should be aware of when taking supplements?
Taking more than you need not only costs a lot of money but can raise the risk of side effects. For example, too much iron can cause sickness and vomiting and may even damage your organs, vitamin K can reduce the effectiveness of blood thinners, and niacin can cause skin reactions.
As many supplements are poorly regulated you can't guarantee the contents. Many supplements contain fillers or elements to colour or coat them.
These can include; titanium dioxide, which is a whitening filler. And hydrogenated oils, which can cause cardiovascular problems.
No substitute for real food
Whilst you may be able to get the vitamins and nutrients you require from a supplement, this still isn't the same as consuming natural foods.
The body is designed to absorb food in a certain way. Real food offers antioxidants and fibre, which supplements simply can’t. So, completely relying on nutritional supplements can leave the body with a nutritional gap.
Although many supplements are considered natural, taking high quantities of different varieties can be damaging to your health, especially if mixing with medication.
The chemical reactions of supplements mixed with other supplements and medicine within your body are often unknown and dangerous. Iron supplements can prevent antibiotics from working properly. St Johns wart can reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills. And ginkgo biloba can thin the blood.
The concept that you can take a pill and it will change everything is not only incorrect but also dangerous. If you avoid making lifestyle changes that could be beneficial and just take a pill believing that it will fix things, you could be doing more harm than good.
There are a range of possible side effects to taking supplements and these should be considered carefully. The best thing to do is to consume natural foods which are rich in the vitamins, minerals, amino acids and nutrients that the body needs.