Vitamins and supplements can be a great way to make sure you get enough essential vitamins and minerals, especially if your diet is restricted due to food allergies, voluntary dietary restrictions or other reasons. There is some dispute over the necessity and effectiveness of taking supplements. But this ultimately comes down to why you’re taking them, how you take them and what your health is like in general.
Can Vitamin and Mineral Supplements be Misused?
Supplements can be misused if they are used in place of a healthy, balanced diet. Research indicates most vitamins and minerals you get from the food are absorbed better than those in supplements, even though the latter are synthesised to the exact chemical composition of naturally-occurring vitamins. Folate is one of the main exceptions to this. This is because of the complex ways in which vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals (plant chemicals) all work together.
How you absorb vitamins and minerals in food is influenced by other components of the food rather than the key ‘active ingredient’. This is why you might notice that you’re instructed to take most vitamin supplements with food. Supplements just can’t be used as a substitute for a healthy diet. To get any benefits from them, you need to ensure you have a healthy, balanced diet.
Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
Some people need supplements to address vitamin or mineral deficiencies and maintain their health, including:
- Pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding
- Elderly people (especially those who are disabled or chronically ill)
- People with food allergies
- Crash dieters or those on very strict diets
- Some vegetarians or vegans
- People who smoke, drink alcohol in excess or use illegal drugs
- Women with heavy periods
- People with malabsorption problems (such as diarrhoea, coeliac disease, cystic fibrosis or pancreatitis).
Using Supplements to Cure Illness
It’s commonly believed that taking large doses of certain vitamins can cure certain ailments. For example, vitamin C is often suggested as medicine for the common cold, while vitamin E is promoted to help prevent heart disease. Other vitamins are purported to be antidotes to stress, tiredness, aging or poor sex drive. The reality is that vitamin supplements never work as miracle cures. If they are recommended, it should be by a doctor for a specific reason (such as to address one of the conditions listed above).
Supplements are taken generally to help support good health rather than miraculously fix poor health. The key is taking a holistic approach. You can ensure you don’t have any vitamin and mineral deficiencies by using supplements in addition to maintaining a healthy diet. However, you need to take other practical steps to prevent things like exhaustion, chronic disease and mental health issues such as exercising regularly, reducing stress in your day to day life, forming and maintaining positive social bonds and taking time to do things you enjoy.
Looking for Holistic Health Advice?
At Releaf Clinics and Dispensaries, our doctors can provide tailored holistic health advice to help you improve your overall health and wellbeing. As a dedicated clinic and dispensary group, we can simplify the consultation process and make it easier for you to access the medicine you need.
Our telehealth consults allow you to access services with Releaf Clinic’s doctors via phone and video chat. Contact us today to chat about how we can help improve your health.