Why Certain Supplements are Hard to Swallow

Health & Wellness, Nutrition


Dietary supplements are a multibillion dollar industry that for many years have been promoted to improve your health.  After all, why wouldn’t you want to take a vitamin that is “guaranteed” to boost mood, energy and vitality, while reducing all types of maladies?  Companies supporting these products have convincingly sold the public that unproven supplements are the “be-all-end-all” and it is not uncommon for a patient to rely on supplements rather than proven remedies for treating a variety of ailments,

Listed below are several reasons why you should be skeptical with regard to the use dietary supplements and why their use is hard to swallow.

  1. Supplements may contain toxic compounds.  Believe it or not, dietary supplements are considered as a category of food and considered “safe until proven otherwise”.  This is vastly different from OTC (over the counter) pills that are strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.   In other words, if you purchase an OTC product like ibuprofen 200 mg, you will receive ibuprofen 200 mg. But if you purchase a supplement, you may be receiving more than you bargained for. In fact, a large study found that supplements can contain toxic heavy metals such as arsenic, mercury and lead.
  2. Supplements are not proven to benefit health. Vitamin supplements, that have tested Vitamins A, B, C and E have failed in large clinical trials to reduce the risk of heart disease or malignancy.   Even Vitamin D supplements have not been shown to improve bone health. And what about those omega-3 and krill capsules that have been heavily promoted?  Well once again, there is no evidence that these supplements work either! 
  3. Some supplements may cause more harm than good:  Vitamin A supplements have been linked to increased risk of cancer as have herbal supplements containing  guang fang ji.
  4. Supplements are a waste of money:  Supplements are expensive, unregulated and unproven, so why take them?  Well, the one exception would be if you are deficient in a specific vitamin, such as vitamin B12 or D that cannot be adequately driven up through dietary sources.  In these instances, it is reasonable to take the supplement to raise levels to normal and avoid the potential problems associated with low levels. However, if your levels are within the normal range, then no proven benefit exists.  Nevertheless, because taking a vitamin sounds better than taking a medication, I tell my patients to consider their medications as their “vitamins”.  This is a win-win because vitamins sound better but medications work better.  
  5.   Michael Miller, MD is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland USA.  His book:  “Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease” focuses on natural ways to improve health without supplements!

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