Do Supplements Benefit or Pointlessly Risk Your Wellness?
The vitamin and mineral supplement industry is huge, providing everything you need for more energy, better sleep, weight loss, or just your overall wellbeing. You might take a supplement to help you towards a specific goal, or you might pop a pill or powder in order to prevent a whole host of general diseases. After all, it couldn’t hurt.
However, what you may not know about supplements is that they dance over the line between food and medication, meaning that manufacturers don’t have to have the same licence as they would with medicines. Therefore, with a bit of magic marketing and suggestive slight-of-hand, supplement companies can put whatever they want in their products and people still buy them believing they will improve their wellness.
Whether it’s for better bones or vision, vitality in the bedroom or a general health boost, a growing body of research says that these supplements may not be all their cracked up to be. One study established a link between vitamin A, vitamin E and beta-carotene supplementation to increased risk of death, whilst another, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, linked multivitamins to an increased risk of prostate cancer.
Another study found that there was an increased risk of death in older women who took supplements, with a 2.4% increased risk of mortality from multivitamin formula supplementation, a 3-6% increased risk of death from supplementation with B6, iron, folic acid, magnesium and zinc, and an 18% increased risk from copper supplements. This led the study authors to conclude: ‘Based on existing evidence, we see little justification for the general and widespread use of dietary supplements.’
According to scientists whose work was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, you should not use nutritional supplements as a general health insurance, but only when you need help with a specific vitamin or mineral deficiency that you might have.
Even if you pick up an ‘all-natural’ or ‘herbal’ product, it doesn’t mean that it is automatically safe and free from harmful, lab-made ingredients. If you want to take natural, preventative herbal supplements, be a conscientious consumer; research the products you take and look for those from reputable companies with no questionable ingredients.