Dietary supplements come in a number of forms, including tablets, capsules, powders, softgels, and gelcaps, with a goal to enhance the amount of vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids we get on a daily basis. Our main focus today is figuring out whether these supplements are healthy for us or if they’re something we can simply live without. And since “vitamin and mineral supplements are taken by an estimated half of all Americans,” according to CBS News, we feel this is one question that’s important, but yet to be finalized. For instance, while some sources say supplements should be deemed a hoax, others say they’re required, like for those who get insufficient exposure to sunlight and need to consume extra vitamin D to stay in tip-top shape.
The pros of taking supplements:
We’re able to absorb a sufficient amount of calcium by naturally consuming milk, yogurt, and orange juice, and folic acid through peas, spinach, and lentils. But what if you’re lactose intolerant or just a picky eater? I definitely know of some. Supplements can help if you’re doing your best to eat healthy foods but are still deficient in some areas. Nutrients are important after all. Vitamin D defends against a lengthy list of diseases, vitamin A preserves healthy immune systems, and omega-3 fatty acids reduce risk factors for high cholesterol and high blood pressure. That’s why supplements aren’t known for replacing healthy diets, but rather ensuring that we receive enough daily nutrients.
The cons of taking supplements:
According to the American Heart Association, we mustn’t “rely only on supplements. There isn’t sufficient data to suggest that healthy people benefit from taking certain vitamin or mineral supplements in excess of the daily recommended allowance.” Other credible sources say high doses of certain nutrients in dietary supplements can actually increase cancer risk, not reduce it. And since supplements aren’t evaluated under the same rules for effectiveness and safety as drugs and medications, there’s the chance that they may contain contaminants, impurities, or harmful ingredients. While they’re presumed to be safe, and could even say it on the box, the harmful ingredients that can promote potential dangers within our bodies include hydrogenated oils, lead, mercury, and titanium dioxide. Before you make any supplement purchase, make sure to read labels and research ingredients!
So, what should we do?
We take dietary supplements for a health boost and to make up for what we miss on a daily basis. A buffer to ward off disease, if you will. And though it’s been said that some can be dangerous, especially when taken in larger-than-recommended amounts, it’s important that we do our research and meet with our doctors to decide whether they’re right for us. And whether we need to look beyond our diets to make up for what we’re actually missing. How do you feel about this subject? Let us know in the comment section below!
Allyson Miller is a bookworm, history nerd and outdoor enthusiast who loves writing creative and informational content for SBT in Rock Hill, SC. Depending on the day, you can find her with her nose in historical documents, shopping for trendy exercise outfits or trying new cooking recipes. Allyson dreams that one day, engineers will figure out a way to build roller coasters sans the incline, ridding her of coasterphobia.