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Do I Need to Take Supplements?

We sum up supplements for you

In our busy, hectic lives, it is common practice and even fashionable to pop a few supplements to ‘upkeep’ our health. But how do you know what supplements you need, or whether you even need them? Here are some facts you need to ponder before you jump onto the supplement bandwagon.

What is a supplement?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines a supplement as “a product intended for ingestion that contains a ‘dietary ingredient’ intended to add further nutritional value to (supplement) the diet.” The supplement may take the form of a vitamin, mineral, herb or herbal concoction, amino acid, or be a combination of any of these.

pills in handsWhy take supplements?

Some common reasons for taking supplements are to:

  • Combat ailments

From fending off a cough to stomping out that stomach flu, supplements seem like a handy alternative to medication, especially when one is not in favour of taking the latter or has numerous allergies to it.

  • Lose weight

Weight loss supplements have been increasing in popularity, and are now widely available online and in pharmacies. However, there is a risk of over-relying on a supplement to lose weight.

  • Build immunity

Many people believe that supplements help to build immunity as well as make up for occasional shortfalls in vitamin and mineral intake. This depends on an individual’s lifestyle and diet.

Are supplements really necessary?

By and large, supplements are not deemed to be necessary if you follow a relatively healthy, well-balanced diet, and have no diagnosed health deficiencies or issues. Many supplements pose little or no risk to health, but be careful not to become over-reliant on them, or use them to replace whole foods.

These groups of people may need supplements to support their health:

  • Pregnant women need a boost in folate (which they can get from folic acid pills), iron and calcium at various stages of their pregnancies. They should avoid taking supplements that contain Vitamin A as large amounts may harm the developing baby.
  • Breastfeeding mothers may need an overall increase in vitamins, minerals and fats if their diet does not meet these needs: Vitamins A, C, B, B12 and folate, calcium, iodine and zinc, and essential fatty aids like DHA and ARA.
  • Vegetarians and vegans may need extra iron, calcium and B12. They can meet these needs if they eat foods that are rich in these vitamins and minerals.
  • People who have certain disease states, food allergies or intolerances or are on medications that interfere with their diet will need to consult their doctor and nutritionist to see if certain supplements will help to fill in the gaps.

pillsSupplement Safety: The Dos and Don’ts

DO:

  • Make sure you read the labels. Supplements are not regulated and subjected to the same rules and clinical trials as prescription drugs, and are not tested for their effectiveness. SO make sure you are not allergic to any of the ingredients the supplements contain.
  • Stick to the recommended daily value (DV). Choose a supplement that is limited to 100% of the recommended DV, and do not take more than the recommended dosage.
  • Think of supplements as a way to fill in the gaps for your diet, and in order to meet your nutritional needs, have a healthy, well-balanced one.

DON’T:

  • Substitute real food with supplements. Supplements will never replace the nutritional value and support that honest, good food gives us.
  • Be your own doctor and assume that supplements alone will cure you of your ailments.
  • Buy into the lie that supplements alone will help you lose weight. You will also need a proper diet and exercise to help you achieve that.
by Sylvy Soh
Posted by ezyhealth on Mar 6 2015. Filed under Regulars. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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