Are our diets that bad that we need to take vitamins, or are they just something we think we need because of clever marketing campaigns? How do you navigate the balance between good health and overkill?
Over-supplementation is rampant these days and somebody is making buckets of money because of it! Supplementation does have a place - restricted diets, pre-natal and if you have deficiencies show up in a blood test you can supplement until you adjust your diet accordingly, but long term dependency is not recommended.
One of the arguments for organic food is that
many of the natural vitamins and minerals that
should be found in our food no longer are,
partly because of herbicides and pesticides
used to grow food these days and partly because
of a change in farming practices where farmers
no longer rotate their crops and leave land to
regenerate for years. Because of this, someone
might have a perfectly balanced diet but still
find a deficiency show up on a blood test.
For that reason, I do supplement my diet when
I am not eating organic food.
I take Iron because I have a very low iron count. It is impossible for me to eat enough iron to even keep it in the normal range, and sometimes I have to get iron shots. So, vitamins give me a life that I can enjoy instead of feeling like the walking dead!
It has been made clear that vitamin supplements are only necessary if you are not getting enough in your diet for whatever reason. In some cases this is simply cause you are not eating enough of the right things, but it may also be due to a medical condition or age. For example, women going through the menopause might find it useful to take additional magnesium. On the whole, there is no need to take them. If you are unsure where it is worth it, just ask your GP.
Vitamins and other suplements (like iron pills) are for when you have a particular deficiency, not just something for everyone to take all the time (although the companies who make them would have us think otherwise). They're expensive and it's debateable whether using them over a long period of time is good for you or not. Then there's the question of how well the industry is regulated and whether they do what they're supposed to.
There has been an article doing the rounds on social media at the moment about a recent study which showed that one third of the herbal supplements tested contained NONE of the substances shown on the label. They had been subsituted for filler ingredients like soy, rice and even tree nuts, which could be deadly for people with allergies. The study was from the US and I wonder whether the same would be found in Australia.
It is a good idea to take them if your diet is not perfect, and/or you have a deficiency in Iron or Zinc for instance. Use your judgement on this. Taking Vilantae for acne is fantastic, because it clears my skin - plus I receive all the multi-vitamins. 20 pills a day on this treatment for three months seems overkill, yet your body cleans itself out in the process.
I don't think people eat very well anymore and in particular I think toddlers and children eat very well. My daughter breastfed baby # 1 and was quite fanatical about it and then the same with baby # 2. But when baby #1 was the toddler she failed miserably at feeding him anyways near to a decent diet. When baby # 2 became a toddler she joined the club. Mum also didn't worry that what she put on the table for them didn't actually go down their throats - so meal planning was just a way for her to feel like she was "providing". Mum felt that breastfeeding religiously set them off on the right foot but didn't seem to understand that you need to keep going with the nutrition. That is, get into the kitchen and actually cook a meal that toddlers will eat.
You are what you eat. If you are not eating very much at all.............
I have proven that I need to take vitamins. Before I was diagnosed Coeliac I was chronically under nourished. I still take vitamins. I have tried stopping but I soon start getting symptoms back again if I stop. Maybe one day my body will have healed enough that I can totally stop, but not there yet.
I firmly believe that Evening Primrose Oil and Vitamin E helped me sail through menopause. I now take EPO, a multi B and Calcium. After a month with an URTI. I'm seriously considering some kind of a tonic. Not sure what. Any suggestions?