The number of calories required for a normal human to survive only through supplements, would require taking in more than a hundred multivitamin pills per day. This comes with the risk of a very high intake of different Vitamins as dietary supplements, leading to instant liver failure.
If this is substituted with taking only the recommended dose of 2-3 pills every day, without eating, you would probably die in about a month, of starvation(1)
There are lot of myths surrounding their intake. Read below to know the related facts.
MYTH: Natural Nutrients and Dietary Supplements Are the Same
Natural nutrients are found in our usual, every day diet as whole food sources.
Synthetic nutrients, otherwise called isolated nutrients are made through artificial processing in industries.
Majority of supplements that are available as capsules, pills, tablets, liquid or in powder forms are all made artificially. They include minerals, vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants among others. These artificially mimic and act, just like natural nutrients in the human body.
Natural nutrients and synthetic nutrients are chemically the same. However, the process of producing artificial supplements is very different to that of the way animals and plants produce them. Though having the same structure, both of them react differently on the human body.
It is also very unclear on how they are absorbed and used by a human body. Some of them are very easily absorbed while others are not.
MYTH: Supplements – A Compulsion for Everyone
You don’t need artificial nutrients if you consume a variety of food that include vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grai
ns, fish & lean meats and low-fat dairy.
You might require them if you
• Are trying to get pregnant or have recently given birth
• Your age is more than 50.
• You have a low appetite.
• Do not follow a diet as whole food source.
• Suffer medical conditions like food allergies, chronic diarrhea, liver disease, pancreas issues or intestinal problems.
• Have had a digestive tract surgery that affects digestion process.
If you feel that you need , any of them, talk to your dietitian about the right dosage and the possible side effects.
MYTH: The More Dietary Supplements – The Better the Health
As mineral and vitamin supplements are easily available without a prescription, people assume that they are safe even after a high dosage. This consumption of more dosages of vitamins or mineral is actually dangerous.
The American Cancer Society says
• Excess intake of Vitamin C interferes with the ability to absorb copper which is a necessary component for human body. High amounts of vitamin C can also lead to stomach pain and cause diarrhea.
• High consumption of phosphorous can inhibit calcium absorption that is vital for bone development.
• Also, high intake of Vitamins A, D and K can lead to body toxity. High intake of vitamin D for longer period of time leads to hypercalcemia, which leads to bone weakness and damages the kidneys and heart.
• Excess of Vitamin A intake can cause nausea, dizziness, headache and further complications like coma and sometimes death.
MYTH: Dietary Supplements Never Interfere With Drugs
Intake of certain nutrients can interfere with medications and make them less effective. Moreover, taking some of them along with certain medications pose a lot of side effects.
If you are on blood thinners, taking excess of vitamin K can interfere in the promotion of blood clotting.
Similarly, taking antibiotics and probiotics, result in no effect of probiotics because antibiotics kill the probiotics.
All supplements do not carry a related drug interaction information on them. Before starting to take them, while on medication, consult your dietician.
MYTH: Dietary Supplements Means Optimum Health
Vitamins are nothing but micronutrients. A human body not only needs vitamins, but also certain amount of fats, proteins and carbohydrates for optimum health. A multivitamin pill or a tablet has small amounts of protein and starch but that is not enough for survival.
Some studies show that the use of multivitamins pills, tablets or tonics is associated to lowering the risk of cancer and heart diseases, while other studies say that they cannot be associated to lowering these risks, instead increase the risk.
Another study revealed that despite high dosage, it did not have any beneficial effect on cardio vascular health.
There are also studies that say that multivitamin pills improve memory in older adults but ‘Physicians’ Health Study’ says that these do not have any affect on the brain in people over 65.
Consistent research has always proved that supplements are in no way a substitute to a healthy and balanced diet. Securing natural nutrients by eating whole foods is certainly the best way to keep a long lasting and good health.
If you think that you are lacking of a specific nutrient, you can always consider consulting your dietician or a doctor