Let’s face it, dietary supplements are pretty much ‘reigning’ now in the healthcare industry. They are so aggressively marketed that we all probably know one friend or relative who regularly takes one or more supplements daily.
The strange thing is that people are quick to pay for many ‘magic supplements’ that promise so many benefits without actually researching or checking if the claims are legitimate, or if there are even any side-effects related to these meds.
When products are labeled with buzzwords like ‘natural’, ‘herbal’, cleanse’, ‘detox’, many people hurry to purchase them because they believe they can help them stay healthier without needing to go through the ‘stress’ of eating healthy or exercising.
The question that comes to mind is ‘Are these claims true? and’ Do we all need to be on dietary supplements?’
Well, in this article, we would be debunking some popular health myths that surround dietary supplements so that you can clearly tell when a marketer isn’t saying the truth about a product.
Should everyone take supplements everyday? Well, the answer is an emphatic NO. Supplements are made with the intent to help people who are deficient in a particular nutrient so that they don’t come down with symptoms of their deficiencies.
For example, it is known that elderly people or menopausal women are more prone to having osteoporosis, so, they are often placed on calcium and vitamin D supplementary tablets to maintain their bone integrity. Osteoporosis can make people very vulnerable to fractures, their bones could break after a minor fall. This can lead to issues with mobility and loss of function, requiring them to use mobility aids like canes, crutches or even the use of teak seats in the shower or transfer benches that are installed across bathtubs.
Also, pregnant women require folic acid and iron supplementation to support their pregnancies.
Supplements are usually prescribed based on a need. You don’t just wake up with no complaints or no prescription, and pay for a dietary pill that promises lower cholesterol.
So, to further reinforce our answer to the question, most of us do not need any form of dietary supplements as long as we eat well.
2. Supplements Can Treat Diseases Like High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, and High Cholesterol
This is a very false statement. The purpose of supplements is to fill gaps in a diet or to treat a deficiency of a particular nutrient, they do not treat diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, or high blood cholesterol.
Even though many marketers promise this, the truth is that there is no scientific proof that any supplement works to do these things. In general, you should always research about the use of the active ingredients of any supplement before taking it.
3. They Are Well Regulated By Governmental Agencies
This may surprise you but governments do not regulate supplements. They are not taken through any testing in any special laboratories to confirm if they work for what they promise to do, or if there were any side effects noted. This is one major reason why you have to be cautious when buying supplements. You can’t just trust a company that wants to make some quick money by selling you medications that will actually get into your body without any third-party testing to confirm the actual ingredients in what you are taking.
What government regulates are traditional medications like painkillers, antibiotics, anti-hypertensive drugs, and other prescription medications.
This is extremely untrue. Taking supplements that you don’t need could actually harm you. Apart from the fact that you need to be sure that the medications contain the exact ingredients they claim to contain in the correct proportions, you have to be mindful of overdosing. Most people think that you can’t go wrong when it comes to taking supplements, especially vitamins, but the truth is that you can actually take in too much and develop symptoms related to that. There is a condition called hypervitaminosis, this usually happens when you take in an excess of a particular type of vitamin, so you have to be very mindful of this.
Also, you should watch out for the ones that promise several benefits or very wild claims that seem too good to be true, they could often harm you.
5. You Don’t Need To Speak With A Doctor Before Taking Any Supplements
Even though you can easily purchase them without a doctor’s prescription, it is recommended that you speak with your doctor before taking any medications- supplements or other pills. The reason is that you have to be sure that it is needed and that it works for you. Because a particular medication worked for your friend does not mean it will work for you.
Another reason why you should discuss with your doctor is that drugs interact and have side-effects. If you are being treated for a particular condition and you choose to start any dietary supplementation, the drugs could interact and potentially harm you. Also, you should seek to know the side-effects of any medication that goes into your body. This is important so that you can look out for these symptoms and report early to keep yourself away from harm.
Guest Article by Dr. Charles-Davies, a medical doctor based in Lagos.
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