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Health Supplements – Do you need them?

How do you begin your day? Is it with a cup of coffee in one hand and a handful of health supplements in the other? If you swear by these colourful little pills that come in various shapes and sizes, you’re not alone.  Whether health supplements are good or bad for us is a hotly debated question and there has been so much research done on the subject. A few of us take health supplements because they have been specifically prescribed for us whereas most of us go by the enticing advertisements which promise us ‘ never seen before benefits’ or for ‘ results that will amaze you’. Sounds familiar?
Did you know?
Health supplements aren’t entirely bad for you, because they give your body minerals and vitamins that you may not be getting from your regular diet. But here’s the mistake that many of us make. We assume that substituting vitamins and nutrients that are naturally found in food groups with multiple health supplements is the same thing. On the contrary, although the vitamins and minerals may be the same, health supplements and wholesome food have a different impact on the body. So yes, Vitamin A does keep your eyes healthy and gives your skin a glow but too much of it can cause liver damage and nausea too. Vitamin D which is currently touted as a vitamin which can boost immunity and help you get rid of a flu faster has been found to increase hypertension and cause kidney stones when taken in huge amounts. Almost every vitamin when taken in excess has a reverse effect on the body.
What’s the answer?
So how do you make sure that you give your body all the nutrients it needs to function at its optimum every day? Experts advise consuming at least 5 portions of vegetables and fruits on a daily basis besides choosing healthy whole grains, low fat dairy and preferably low fat cuts of meat as well. If you take the time to choose and cook nutritious food for yourself, you’ll find that you’re giving your body not just one or two vitamins but a whole range of them. For example, did you know that eating a small 100gm apple gives you more vitamin C than your regular supplement? Plus you also get plenty of fibre and antioxidants that are believed to help protect against cancer.
Stepping into a fast food joint and enjoying a burger is so much easier than washing, chopping and cooking vegetables. But remember, your body depends on the fuel you put into it, so make healthier eating choices from today. You’ll find that you have much more energy throughout the day as well and yes, even for an intensive taekwondo class. A counter argument is that one of the key benefits of supplements is making up for our diet if it’s a little lacking, is your diet perfect?  Even if you did eat an ideal diet, if the fruits and vegetables are from farms where the soils are depleted because they have been farmed for so long, are the minerals still present in sufficient quantities by the time we eat them?

The jury is definitely still out, but perhaps the safest bet is common sense, ie a balanced diet, regular exercise, and a quality supplement regularly, with perhaps a top up when you are feeling run down.