The Case Of The Vitamin Supplement

Who isn’t boggled by the array of vitamin supplements available in health stores, chemist chains and even the local supermarket? It’s all too easy to think our loved ones are suitably nourished as long as they’re all taking their vitamin supplements. The result is a great number of unqualified ‘self-diagnosticians’ attempting cures for all manner of illnesses. Especially popular is the ‘get-all-your-RDA-in-one-capsule’ multi-vitamin variety.

Faulty Reasoning Regarding Vitamin Supplements.

Hands up if you thought that since eating fruit and vegetables nourishes our bodies, then taking the vitamins found in fruit and vegetables concentrated in pill form can only do us good, right? Wrong! The truly alarming results of meta-analyses conducted in a number of first world countries have released worrying results.
Beta-carotene, Vitamin A and Vitamin E must be strictly prescribed by a qualified health practitioner, for starters. Millions of consumers in South Africa too, take supplements containing those three ingredients in particular on a daily basis. They have been shown to significantly increase mortality.  This shocking announcement is based on a recent review prepared by NICUS (Nutrition Information Service of the University of Stellenbosch). The NICUS article is entitled "Are We Oxidising Ourselves with Antioxidants? Be Careful of the Supplements You Take". There’s food for thought right there!
Here is what NICUS recommend we do:

  • Ensure you are eating a balanced diet that provides all the necessary nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, that you need for good health.
  • If you think you may need additional vitamins and mineral supplements, consult an expert, such as a dietitian or doctor.
  • Avoid taking any supplement that claims to be a 'cure-all'.
  • Don't take vitamin supplements that only contain a single nutrient (e.g. pills that only contain vitamin A, or E, or beta-carotene).
  • Have a careful look at the label of the vitamin supplement you intend taking and if you can't make out what the label means, ask the pharmacist to explain how much of each vitamin, but especially vitamins A and E and beta-carotene, the supplement contains. If the levels exceed 100% of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) don't buy them. Rather use a multi-vitamin, multi-mineral supplement than one that only contains single vitamins or minerals.
  • Don't take vitamin supplements for long periods.
  • Tell your doctor if you suspect that the vitamin and/or mineral supplements you are taking are causing side-effects or making you ill.

This is not to say that the whole idea of vitamin supplementation is taboo. It is, most earnestly informing the general public though, of the dangers of self-diagnosing and self-prescribing.
Contact this website for assistance before you start your family on products one can pick off a shelf.


« back to Articles