Everything you always wanted to know about nutritional supplements but were too afraid to ask

Can vitamin and mineral supplements really live up to all the tall claims, or is it more hype than truth?


Boost energy levels, lose weight, reduce stress and anxiety, reduce hair fall, get that glowing skin and increase your breast size! Do these phrases sound familiar?  They are few of the promises found on the labels of vitamin and mineral supplements. But can vitamins and minerals really live up to these claims, or is it more hype than truth? With everyone from celebrities to body builders endorsing pills for better health and beauty, it is hard to make an informed choice.

Promises on labels are carefully worded claims that suggest exaggerated results. Dietary supplements are not strictly regulated and some manufacturers may imply that their products have greater powers than the scientific evidence shows. So, popping a pill may not actually do your body the good that is being promised.

Five things to keep in mind before starting a supplement

  • Always consult a doctor before starting a supplement.
  • Get complete medical tests done to determine deficiencies before starting a supplement.
  • If you are suffering from any chronic lifestyle disease, check with your doctor if the supplements are compatible with your present prescribed medication.
  • Avoid unnecessary intake of pills and powders in case you are already suffering from dehydration and constipation.
  • Always read the nutrition labels on products before you buy them.
flickr CC by Ano Lobb

flickr CC by Ano Lobb

Yes, nutritional supplements are great for a short time, to tide over the deficiency. But, like the name suggests, they are meant to supplement your diet, filling in for when your diet fails to provide the nutrition you need. But, vitamins and other dietary supplements are not intended to be a substitute for food or to be a permanent replacement for nutrient gaps in your lifestyle. They cannot replace all of the nutrients present in whole foods. However, when our daily food intake does not include essential nutrients like calciumpotassium, zinc, vitamin D and other vitamins, the supplements can help prevent deficiencies that can contribute to chronic conditions.

For example, the current common deficiencies in Bangalore are of Vitamin D, Vitamin D3 or B12. People might take supplements for recovery but they can only fill the gap for a while, after that one has to begin eating nutritious food, ensure one is eating meals on time to prevent the deficiency from recurring again.

Tips to reduce Vitamin D deficiency

Walk barefoot on grass in the morning: In naturopathy, treatment is based on the five elements of nature, the earth contains magnetic fields which affect the entire electrical and magnetic field of our body. Known as ‘earthing’ or ‘grounding’, being in direct contact with the Earth helps in the exchange of energies to neutralize negative electrical impulses in our body which are known to cause certain ailments.

flickr CC Morgan

flickr CC Morgan

Check your nutritional intake with these handy tips

  • Start with shopping for a variety of nourishing, nutrient-rich foods. Ensure your basket/cart has a good proportion of leafy vegetables.
  • Avoid instant food and processed food as much as you can although, ideally, you should have none of it.
  • Make a journal and keep track of your diet habits. Evaluate what is missing in your diet. Here are some questions you can ask yourself: Are there entire food groups you avoid? Are apples the only fruit you eat? Do you eat all vegetables? How much water are you drinking in a day?
  • In case you are advised to take a multivitamin tablet, then choose a multivitamin that provides 100% or less of the Daily Value (DV) as a backup to plug the small nutrient holes in your diet.
  • Respect the limits. Supplements can fill in where your diet leaves off, but they can also build up and potentially cause toxicities if you take more than 100% of the DV.
  • Women past menopause and men need very low iron or no iron supplement.
  • Remember to take your supplements on time and set a routine of taking them with meals or before going to bed.
  • Medication and supplements tend to dehydrate the body. Ensure your water intake is good if you are taking any of them on daily.
  • Herbal supplements are different from vitamin and mineral supplements and are considered to have a certain medicinal value. If you are on medications, first check with your doctor. Words like ‘herbally extracted natural source’ need not necessarily mean a product is good for you.
  • If you are pregnant, nursing, or have a chronic medical condition such as diabetes, hypertension or heart disease, you must check with your doctor before taking other dietary supplements.

 

 

The Natural Beauty and Wellness Hub is our journey into discovering ideas for personal care that are natural, free of harsh chemicals and over-processing, are non-polluting and fair to everyone involved in the process, just as much as it is an inquiry into the idea of beauty and wellness itself. All content on the hub is produced with 100% editorial independence by The Alternative. 

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  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Atraeyee Niharchandra is a nutritionist and a practitioner of naturopathy, pranic healing and yoga. 'I lived that life. For over a decade.Today, I have traded everything for a healthy new beginning. That’s because, today, I am looking at making myself happy. With time, I have moved on from fashion and diet food to something more exotic - health within. I have my share of health struggles wi... more

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  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Atraeyee Niharchandra is a nutritionist and a practitioner of naturopathy, pranic healing and yoga. 'I lived that life. For over a decade.Today, I have traded everything for a healthy new beginning. That’s because, today, I am looking at making myself happy. With time, I have moved on from fashion and diet food to something more exotic - health within. I have my share of health struggles wi... more

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