Dietary Supplements: The Smart and Safe Use of Vitamins and Supplements

"Information about dietary supplements is often confusing or unclear. It’s hard to know which offer genuine health benefits and which are merely giving false promises, or worse, running the risk of actually damaging your health. By learning all you can about vitamins and supplements, you can make better choices about those that are right for you" (Maya W. Paul and Melinda Smith, M.A). 

I wondered about the supplements being put into my body because I was someone who used a lot of them and worked out a lot to see results to reach my fitness goals faster. I think supplements are the lesser healthier alternative to steroids. I mean everyone wants to reach their goals as fast as they can to go on the next goal. As I looked online for a reliable source to enhance my knowledge on supplements I came across this article that I found to be very helpful and insightful. 

To be clear on the definition of what supplements are the DSHEA (Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act) defines it as basically a capsule or powdered producted contained of vitamins and/or substances, minerals, amino acids, etc. labeled as a dietary supplement. I find this definition very vague. There are too many loopholes in the definition of "supplements" but with the right research and products supplements are beneficial to your health. For someone with physical or mental deficiencies benefit greatly from supplements. Micronutrients such as vitamin A or E contribute to healthy eyes, bones and the immune system. Because we live in a world where there is a McDonalds on every block it is good to take a multivitamin or healthy supplement for those relapses in a healthy diet. Paul and Smith make a good argument that taking the right supplements the correct way doesn’t hurt your body.

The one thing I learned most from this article is the section on herbal supplements; little did I know the immense difference between herbal and mineral supplements. According to Environmental Nutrition "whole foods supplements are concentrated whole foods that also contain an array of other plant compounds or phytonutrients and there are currently no regulations for the term “whole food supplement” in the U.S." (Environmental Nutrition, Paul and Smith). I think the only similarity about herbal and mineral supplements is the loose definition of both versions and the types of benefits it contributes. 

If you continue to read this article it’ll go into the misleading information that most individuals have about supplements. Just to keep in mind supplements is something added, meaning adding to a healthy diet or lifestyle. If anyone should take anything from this article is that supplements do not, I repeat, do not correct, cure, or treat health problems especially when they are taken incorrectly. There is a reason most supplement packages say "Please consult with a doctor before taking this supplement". Having this same discussion with one of our trainers John Mefford, we both came to the conclusion that people don’t realize that the "suggested serving size or dosage" is reflected on the "average person". Not everyone is the same person so that is why consulting with a doctor about the correct, proper serving to take will be instructed just for YOU. This article brings up questions that an individual should ask themselves before purchases any supplements: Do I need this supplement? Is this supplement is safe? Does this supplement inflict with any drug or food I am taking? Does this supplement work? These are important questions to ask. No one should just start consuming a product without any knowledge on the effects of it. 

As someone who takes a lot of supplements I’ve had my petrified moments after fainting, nausea, kidney infections and an extremely high and unsafe heart rate. You can damage your liver when consuming too many supplement(s) for a long period of time without taking any breaks from it. The last thing I want to bring to light is the section in this article that talks about is about energy boosters. A lot of individuals I know who workout vigorously and use energy boosters such as creatine, vitamin B12 and ephedra, unfortunatly many side effects and long-term consequence occur.  Some of these consequences involve liver damage and an increase risk of developing certain cancers. These energy boosters also are beneficial to athletic performance, reaching fitness goals, and overall health. For example dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) prevents cancer, heart disease, and infectious disease. 

Do not take this article as an arguement that suppliments are bad and to not take them. The arguement is just to take them with precaution. Weight both pros and cons of suppliments and compare it to your own health. Ask the questions stated in this blog, consult with your doctor and do research. Itll only be beneficial.