Do we really need supplementation?

The vitamin and supplement industry took off in the 1930's and is currently worth almost 2 billion dollars. They come in many forms from pills, capsules, sprays, patches, powders, and intravenous injections. They are presented in a way to protect us from illnesses, increase health, build muscle, anti- age and more. But is there evidence that they make us better or healthier?

Over 50% of Americans take daily supplements but do we really need them> Its human nature to think that if something is good that more is better. Too much Vitamin E can increase your risk of cardiac problems. To much vitamin A can be harmful to your bones. Vitamin C can cause kidney stones, excess iron has a toll as well. Its practically impossible to overdose with food supplementation but if you are routinely taking too much vitamins you may suffer consequences or just have really expensive urine.

Many of these supplements are not regulated by the FDA and the industry is not held to any sort of standard. So long as the labels do not state that it is a cure or treatment for a certain disease they can put anything boosting terminology to help sell the products. Most things that are sold need to be proven safe and effective but nutritional supplements do not. Many studies show that some supplements don't even have the ingredients listed and are full of fillers and contaminants. Many diet supplements work off of stimulants and can be very unsafe. Ephedra, a weight loss stimulant was the cause of 150 cardiac deaths in just about 8 years.

There are instances in which some supplementation is recommended. Women in child baring years need to make sure they have enough folic acid to prevent neural tube defects. Many are Vitamin D deficient due to lack of sun exposure. Most Americans are magnesium deficient due to farming practices depleting the soils. Dietary restrictions or aging also play a part in deficiencies or lack of absorption. As an example this is seen in vegans lacking B12 in their diet.

The concept of supplements and vitamins has this easy cure all attitude that has also created an ingratitude for whole natural foods, as some think supplementation will suffice for poor dietary choices. We should really be striving for a diet that is diverse in vitamin and mineral rich foods to get our micronutrients, polyphenols, antioxidants, and fiber. Is a deficiency is a concern, talk to your doctor about getting a blood panel done to see if you need supplementation before wasting your money.