Honestly, every time i see someone pop a pouch of vitamin pills/supplements I either feel like snatching it or just driving them straight to the farm produce market but that would be too aggressive a move, so here I am, punching away at the keyboard instead.
What are Vitamins?
Vitamins are micronutrients (small quantity) needed for the proper functioning, and growth of our body. There are two types of vitamins, water-soluble that is they dissolve in water, Eg- Vitamin c, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folacin, vitamin B12, biotin, and pantothenic acid and fat-soluble are like oils and they do not dissolve in water. Examples- Vitamin A, D, E, K.
Are you insecure yet?
The supplement companies breed on, “your insecurities”. Okay, raise your brows for every time you’ve heard.
- Glowing skin?
- More muscle gain?
- More energy?
- Silky hair?
- Better cognitive ability? (if only)
Put any part of the body there and attach a bunch of heavy promises and insert visually appealing men and women, sitting on an unachievable foundation and you have the recipe for a great commercial!
The global supplement industry has a market capitalization of USD 136.2 billion and has been estimated to reach USD 204.7 billion by 2026 at a compound annual growth of 7% approximately.
Myths about vitamins and supplements.
- They are not a replacement for your diet – pills and supplements can never replace food and experts have now and again said that the best way of getting all your nutrients is a balanced diet.
- They can also lead to overdose like drugs– Some of the severe side effects of some vitamins.
|Over Dose||Side effects|
|Vitamin A||High doses in pregnant women can lead to birth defects.|
|Vitamin D||Leading to high calcium levels leading to calcium stones in kidneys.|
|Vitamin E||Severe complications like blood thinning and increased risk of a stroke.|
- They are not tested and approved by the FDA– Yes, you read that right. There are no proper regulations for them, hence using them without any real reason or recommendation can lead to unnecessary problems.
- Potential Drug Interactions
|Supplements||Drugs they can react with|
|Fish Oil||Cancer Drugs, Cardiac drugs|
|Vitamin C||AIDS/ HIV drugs, Hypertensives|
|Vitamin E||Immunosupressants, Cancer Drugs|
- Most of the benefits they promise are not based on a large-scale research.
When and how should you take them?
You should be taking one when you have a deficiency/your body can’t absorb enough of a certain vitamin or when you are on a restrictive diet but again based on your doctor’s recommendation.
For Example– I take fish oil (periodically) as I tend to get serious inflammation, where my immune system makes more skin cells than needed leading to pink scales on my fingers and toes and dents on my nails, which at times can get bad. There is no real cure for it besides a well-regulated diet.
The water-soluble pills are advised to be taken on an empty stomach in the morning or after 2 hours of food for better absorption, while the fat-soluble vitamins are better absorbed when eaten with fatty foods and these foods are abundant with these vitamins.
Keep it simple!
- Sticking that to my refrigerator cause honestly it’s better than spending 100 USD or more annually, that’s how much an average human spends on supplements according to a survey published by THE NEW YORK TIMES.
Eat fortified foods- These are foods where the nutrients are added to them which are not naturally present. Examples- Iodine in salt, Yogurt with Vitamin D, fortified breakfast cereals, yadda yadda.
Reviewed by Dr Pratiksha Masurkar.