The Health Guru

Facts, Hints, Tips, Advice and Inspiration on everything to do about health & weight loss.

Are Supplements necessary?

Posted on | July 19, 2010 | No Comments

I was recently asked how I feel about supplements!  Not completely knowing what situation the request was relating to, I thought I’d keep my answer broad.  I’d also like to point out that this blog entry is my personal opinion only – if you currently have a medical condition please always follow your doctors advice.

So here goes…..

I thought I’d start by defining the word ‘Supplement’. Supplement means something is added to complete a thing, make up for a deficiency, extend or strengthen the whole. You could add a supplement to what seems insufficient i.e. “supplement your diet”

Common ‘supplements’ include taking vitamin and minerals (multivitamins), more specific supplements with defined uses such as Omega 3 for Heart & Brain function and then dietary supplements such as Protein and Amino Acids for a component that may be in a deficiency or to induce a performance effect I.e. Body builders taking protein to encourage muscle growth.

I am both “anti” and “pro” supplement consumption.

My anti-supplement attitude is based upon:

1)    Unsupported and unscientific claims about supplementsI.e. Super Fat Burner “take this tablet x 3 daily to increase metabolism and lose inches in days” – Where is the Science? Where is the proof?  Where is the how and why?

2)    The claim that due to today’s busy lifestyle, eating too much junk food and poor soil quality that we no longer receive the nutrients that you need to live healthilySo in my opinion… fix it – eat properly, consume more vegetables and adjust your lifestyle. Don’t pop a pill as a quick-fix for the problem.

3)    Unqualified people prescribing supplements off the shelfEven all natural supplements have toxic levels.  If you are taking supplements or looking to start – get professional advice and monitoring.

4)    Taking Supplement CocktailsI can’t tell you the amount of times that I see people consuming more than 5 types of supplements daily and not seeing any health benefits from it.

5)    People wasting their money buying supplements they don’t need.  This goes back to not having professional advice but also not knowing what is needed by the body.

Eg. Protein requirements:

Average sedentary office worker:  40 – 70 g of protein daily. However if you are exercising you may need more.

Endurance Athletes:  1.2-1.4g/kg of body weight

Strength-Trained Athletes:  1.6-1.7g/kg of body weight

Therefore – doing a quick calculation for myself (and I’m not at an athlete standard – therefore 1.2g x 54kg = 64.8g protein daily –or- 21.6 g at each meal.  So that means the range of protein needed from a completely sedentary person to endurance athlete is 40 – 64.8g – that certainly isn’t the bucket loads that people consume)  Most people taking protein supplements are wasting their money and also stressing the body as they have to digest and expel additional protein by-products.

6) Supplement toxicity and side-effects:  Do you know what you’re really taking? Did you know that all non-absorbed supplements are excreted from the body via kidneys in urine.  If you are taking an unneeded ‘supplement cocktail’ all you are doing is creating very expensive urine (not to forget the damage done to your kidneys)

Researchers who examined supplement takers found that people who eat a healthy diet get all the vitamins they need from their food. Any excess of vitamins (the water soluble C, B1, B2 and B6), whether in the food or in dietary supplements, is excreted via urine. Fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) are stored in the liver and an excess can result in side effects.

Here’s another scenario:  You have sore Joints – so you go and buy some glucosamine supplements as it’s supposed to be good for joint health? Correct? Isn’t that what it says on the bottle??  But did you know that a study has shown when Glucosamine is metabolized it can affect the beta cells of the pancreas and reduce the effectiveness of insulin.  It doesn’t say that on the bottle though.

Why am I anti supplements sometimes – Because I can’t see cancer rates, heart disease or common deaths dropping because of all the supplements being taken. I also can’t see health dramatically improving because of this multi-million dollar booming industry.  So how?

However, then on the flip-side I am pro-supplement in many situations:

1)    Prevention:  If I know that people around my office having been coming down with serious cold and flu I will take preventative measures to help my body.  I think it’s possible to take zinc, vitamin c, Echinacea etc to give your body fighting ability. But at the same time I also make sure I eat more vegetables, drink loads of water and sleep well.  I don’t just pop pills to do the work.

2)    Probiotics:  I highly recommend after a course of antibiotics that you replace the good bacteria into your gut.

3)    Deficiency Supplementing:  If you have medical proof you have a deficiency then by all means, supplement it to regain health. But only under the supervision of a professional.

4)    Vitamins and Minerals are essential – which means that the body must rely on diet to provide them as they can’t be made in the body.  So if you absolutely cannot make lifestyle and diet changes to provide your body with them the natural way – then multi-vitamin supplements are essential.

5)    Healing:  Cialis Online pills If you are taking an intended supplement to heal you then do so. 

I personally don’t take supplements regularly – partly because I can never remember to take them – but also because I feel that I don’t need them.  However, I have had illness in patches throughout my life that needed additional help provided to my body.  I prefer to keep my diet as clean and healthy as possible – but that’s because I can and I try to do so every day.

I think the take home message is that Supplements do have purpose and can be beneficial to the body – however more often than not people are wasting their money buying products they don’t need and don’t work.  Ask yourself why you’re taking them?  Can you improve your diet and lifestyle instead of popping these pills? And always read the fine print as to what you putting in your body.

And also, please always seek professional guidance before taking supplements.


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