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Supplement use requires caution

Individual nutritional statuses vary, and supplements do not dispatch guarantees to sound health and well-being

It is now a satisfactory ritual to pop up our supplement pills and subsequently feel health will be granted by default. But is that all we need to know regarding our supplements consumption?

The typical city culture and unhealthier lifestyle patterns are sparing almost no one from dietary insufficiencies and they tend to be met through supplements.

Initially, let us understand what are dietary supplements and what are they intended for.

Also known as nutritional supplements is an ‘umbrella term’ for products manufactured to supplement one’s diet or to provide the missing nutritional elements in the diet through pills, capsules, powders, gummies, or liquids.

We popularly know them as vitamins, minerals, or certain herbs.

Do supplements work?

According to Harvard Health Publishing, “For most claims made on product labels, the law does not require evidence that the claim is accurate or truthful.

The FDA's (Food and Drug Administration) first opportunity to weigh in comes only after a product is marketed when it can take action against products that are adulterated, misbranded, or likely to produce injury or illness.”

Should everyone be taking supplements?

It’s a prevailing obsession these days that one must consume supplements to attain sound health and prevent certain ailments.

However, individual nutritional statuses vary, and supplements do not dispatch guarantees to sound health and well-being, but a well-balanced diet combined with physical activity, and proper exposure to sunlight and fresh air certainly do.

Remember, they supplement not substitute!

What is the best time for taking supplements?

Talking of common supplements, iron is best absorbed with Vitamin C on an empty stomach. Vitamins A, D, E, and K go well with meals containing fatty foods as they are fat soluble and greatly absorbed thereafter.

B vitamins are energy boosters and metabolism activators hence ingesting them in the early morning hours after you wake up is the ideal time to consume them.

Similarly, Vitamin D is generally recommended with calcium for better absorption. Omegas are fatty acids and they too go better with meals containing fatty foods. Zinc is preferable after meals to avoid gut irritation.

What are the combinations to avoid?

Calcium and iron as calcium interfere with iron absorption.

This implies having milk and other dairy products along with iron-containing foods or iron supplements.

Likewise, consuming green tea with the iron causes antioxidants present in it to bind with the ‘haem’ part of iron molecule masking the beneficial effects of green tea.

Similarly, Zinc with copper is not advisable as zinc tends to hinder copper absorption.

Can overdosing bear ill results?

There is recommended dosage for various supplements and it is always better to consult with your healthcare provider if you are willing to consume it for potentiating health benefits.

If you are meeting your nutritional requirements of vitamins and minerals through food; in that case supplements overdosage can worsen the scenario rather than making it better.

The rundown; to get acquainted with supplements, get acquainted with your body’s requirements to yield optimum benefits.

Dr Nisma Haris

The writer is a general physician, content creator

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