As our body undergoes growth and development over the years, it requires the essential nutrients in the form of vitamins, minerals and proteins mainly. However, those who fail to choose the path of consuming a balanced diet get intrigued towards supplements, which on the other hand, curtail their efforts to follow a particular diet.
A dietary supplement is intended to provide the above nutrients that may otherwise not be consumed in sufficient quantities.
Research suggests that there are more than 50,000 supplementary varieties available and it is believed that more than half the adult population of the United States of America (53-55%) consume them in the form of tablets, capsules, liquid or powder form.
Some supplememts are nutritionally favorable when used in the right quantities but it is best to shun them as they are not food substitutes and they fail to provide the nutrients that whole foods are capable of providing. For instance, if an individual completely relies on supplements, he/she will lack the required dietary fibre and several natural and protective substances such as photochemicals and antioxidants, which would have been obtained by eating protein rich whole foods.
For individuals with a strong desire to lose weight and to be fit, these supplements prove to be a magical solution but on the other the hand they might lead to some serious as well as life threatening consequences.
Unlike drugs, supplements are self-prescribed without reliable information about their safety and potential risks. As a part of their recent findings, the FDA have tracked reports of illness, injury and reactions from supplements and have concluded that the number of reports have continued to climb each year with an increase of 1835 reports between 2010 and 2012.
Many supplements contain active ingredients and psychoactive drugs that can have strong effects on the body. Here are a few:
- Some supplements increase the risk of bleeding or, if the person takes them before or after surgery, they can interfere with the action of anesthesia.
- Some supplements react with certain prescribed drugs that might cause problems. For example, consumption of vitamin K reduces the ability of the blood thinner Coumadin to prevent blood clotting and consumption of vitamin C and E reduces the effectiveness of some types of chemotherapy.
- Most dietary supplements have not been well tested for safety in pregnant women, nursing mothers or children.
- Victims of body building supplements required liver transplants and in some cases it led to death as well.
- Due to unlisted steroids, adulteration and excessive usage, mild to severe toxicity has occurred on consumption of supplements even when the ingredients were essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals or amino acids.
- Bitter orange-a common herbal ingredient in weight loss supplements causes high blood pressure and racing heartbeat.
- Consumption of omega-3 fish oil supplements leads to loose stools, nausea, stomach aches and more than 3 grams of fish oil may increase the risk of bleeding too.
- Calcium Sandoz, an alternative supplement for calcium intake can affect the digestive system resulting in diarrhea, constipation and flatulence due to a buildup of gas in the intestines.
- Protein powders and bottled protein shakes are a powdered form of supplements and contain high quantities of sugar per serving resulting in obesity. They also contain extra protein that exceeds the normal protein requirement causing gastrointestinal issues, osteoporosis and kidney related diseases.
Some experts estimate that one in four supplements sold have labeled quantities that are inaccurate and many consumers aren’t aware of the fact that unlike medicines or drugs, supplements don’t undergo an approval by the FDA or the government before it is sold thus blinding people of the several risks leading to a misconception that supplements are good for ones body. Therefore, the best way to ensure your safety is by avoiding them to the maximum possible extent and inculcating these essential vitamins, proteins and minerals naturally in your diet with foods rich in them and also consulting a healthcare professional before taking any kind of supplement.
Sayonara supplements! Hello healthy lifestyle!
By Nitya Bansal