Controversy surrounds the ingredients of vitamin supplements and their effectiveness and safety.
Multi-vitamins: what's in them, what do they do, and are they really good for you?
Are there really vitamins in your multi-vitamin? The debate surrounding nutrient supplementation is never far from the spotlight. Do we need supplements? How safe are they? Are they effective? Should we just be eating our vitamins and minerals?
Experts tend to agree that, in an ideal world, we would be eating our way through the nutrients essential for our body’s thriving. In reality, this is not the case, and even if it were, ever depleting levels of minerals in our soil mean that our food is just not as nutritious as it used to be, leaving us with a significant shortfall. While the idea of taking supplements is mainstream (according to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 53 per cent of American adults are taking some form of nutritional supplements), the controversy now seems to surround the ingredients of our supplements and their effectiveness and safety.
An article from Natural News, published in May, highlights what is of increasing concern among nutrition experts and consumers alike: that conventional supplements, widely available from grocery stores and pharmacies, are composed of inorganic, isolated and synthetic forms of vitamins and minerals.
There are a number of reasons why this is problematic, according to the bestselling author Dr Joseph Mercola. First, your body is not familiar with such forms of inorganic nutrients and so being able to absorb and use them is highly unlikely, which means they won’t be filling the need you intended them to.
Second, these supplements often include synthetic chemicals, binding agents and bulking agents, all of which are toxic to your body and can lead to a toxic build-up with continuous consumption.
Third, there are many forms of minerals such as magnesium, iron and calcium; some we should be eating and some that we shouldn’t. Unfortunately, many supplements contain the latter, forms of minerals that are more likened to rocks than food; for example, calcium carbonate and magnesium oxide. Taking them regularly could potentially do more harm than good.
It is important to remember why we are taking supplements to begin with: to address a shortfall in our nutrition through the insufficient consumption of nutritious food. The magic word here is food – so, when we are choosing supplements, we need them to contain real food. The key phrase to look for is “whole food supplement”. In the end, “let food be thy medicine” – not supplements.
Laura Holland is a well-being consultant and nutritional therapist. Visit www.BeutifulYou.co.uk
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