health supplements

Are health supplements really helping us?

Your health begins with your diet. Eating a balanced diet will ensure that your body carries out its functions normally and you live a healthy life.

However, many people believe that health supplements will give them an extra boost of health.

Health supplements come in the form of pills, powders, teas, shakes, and oils. It’s a big business.

Approximately $30 billion worth of products are sold in the United States every year. A large segment of these sales is made up of older adults.

In 2017, The Journal of Nutrition published a survey of more than 3,500 older adults ages 60 and older that showed 70% take supplements, 54% take one or two supplements, and 29% take four or more supplements daily.

If you go on the internet, you’ll find many conflicting viewpoints. Some articles will point you to a product they are trying to sell, highlighting health benefits which can be yours at a price.

Some medical experts think while they don’t add much value, health supplements don’t cause a lot of harm either, or some doctors are completely against it.

Dr. JoAnn Manson, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School says that supplements can distract people from ‘healthy lifestyle practices that confer much greater benefits.’

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University reviewed three recent studies that examined the effect of supplements:

  • Taking a multivitamin does not reduce the risk for heart disease or cancer.
  • Around 6000 men were tracked for 12 years and it was found that their risk for mental decline (memory loss, slow thinking) was not reduced by regular intake of multivitamins.
  • For up to 55 months, 1,708 heart attack survivors were given a high-dose multivitamin or a placebo. There were barely any differences in the rates of later  heart attacks, heart surgeries or deaths between the two groups.

In fact, it was found that Vitamin E and beta-carotene supplements can harm your health, especially if you consume them in high doses.

So, what can you do to ensure your nutrition profile remains healthy? Pay attention to what you eat.

The WHO stresses that eating a variety of foods and consuming less salt, sugars and saturated and industrially produced trans-fats, are essential for a healthy diet.

It is important to consume a variety of foods to maintain a healthy diet. These include:

  • Cereals
  • Legumes
  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Meat, eggs

You can get all the vitamins and minerals you need from food if you follow a healthy diet.