We all know that vitamins are essential for our normal health and development. They are vital to life and everybody needs them. It’s also no secret that vitamins, minerals and other dietary supplements are part of a very lucrative, billion dollar industry. In fact, it is reported by some sources that Americans spend almost $2 billion on various vitamin and mineral supplements annually.
We keep hearing compelling arguments trying to convince us to take vitamins, minerals and other supplements:
“Vitamins, supplements, herbs and other natural remedies can cure you as well as or better than many prescription drugs…without the negative side effects.”
“If everyone took a few supplements every day, they could significantly lower their risk of a multitude of serious diseases.”
However does that mean we have to run to the nearest Vitamin Shoppe or order them online from Vitamins Direct or some other cheap vitamins supplier?
While taking some supplements is necessary if there is deficiency, some of the supplements may actually be doing more harm than good.
So, whenever you feel an urge to buy the latest and greatest multi vitamin supplement, or super food, consider this:
– How do you know which vitamins to take? How can you be sure you are selecting the right nutritional supplements to take? Having the proper balance of vitamins and minerals is essential for health. Excess of isolated vitamins or minerals can have similar symptoms as vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Vitamins and minerals can work in synergy or can block the absorbtion or effect of each other. Supplement manufacturers spend millions trying to persuade us that their products are the best on the market. What can you believe and to whom can you go to for advice? Your doctor? Most medical schools do not provide sufficient education in nutrition.
– How do you know how much to take? In large doses, some vitamins have documented side effects that tend to be more severe with a larger dosage. The likelihood of consuming too much of any vitamin from food is remote, but overdosing from vitamin supplementation does occur. At high enough dosages some vitamins cause side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.
When side effects emerge, recovery is often accomplished by reducing the dosage. The concentrations of vitamins an individual can tolerate vary widely, and appear to be related to age and state of health. In the United States, overdose exposure to all formulations of vitamins was reported by 62,562 individuals in 2004 (nearly 80% of these exposures were in children under the age of 6), leading to 53 “major” life-threatening outcomes and 3 deaths;a small number in comparison to the 19,250 people who died of unintentional poisoning of all kinds in the U.S. in the same year (2004). Source: Wikipedia.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, are told to use extreme caution when adding supplements to your diet for a reason.
– Buyer Beware. In choosing nutritional supplements it is truly a caveat emptor—and let the buyer beware. Remember that vitamins, minerals and other supplements aren’t regulated in the same way as prescription drugs. You need to read the ingredients listed as being contained in any product and investigate possible benefits as well as potential side effects than can occur. Because of the lack of regulations in the vitamin industry and there are many unscrupulous sellers that may try to get your money.
– How do you know which brand to trust? Some vitamins and supplements can be hazardous to your health. Many vitamins, including some of the highly advertised name brands, are processed at high temperatures, contain petroleum derived chemical solvents, such as ethyl cellulose and are coated with methylene chloride, a carcinogenic material. Even though the majority of people will have no serious side effects from ingesting small amounts of toxins found in some vitamin supplements, the long term consequences of continuous, daily intakes are potentially dangerous, and a small percentage people of displays sensitivity to these chemicals. Allergic reactions may include fatigue, memory loss, depression and insomnia.
– How natural are “natural” vitamins and supplements? Some of the “natural” vitamins are also produced under less than optimal conditions. The potency, dosage – and sometimes even the ingredients – are often difficult to determine from the label. Natural does not always mean a seal of approval.
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