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A Review Of Nutrition Supplements

The discussion on vitamin supplements can be complicated as so many supposedly objective studies on the subject can be biased in some way, primarily as a result of sponsorship by a vested interest party. I remember a doctor telling me he had received results of a study, which claimed vitamin C made no difference to sufferers of the common cold. The physician found this a strange conclusion until he found the study had been sponsored by a manufacturer of cold remedies.

One of the arguments against using supplements is all the vitamins and minerals we need can be provided by a healthy diet, which is absolutely true. However not many people do eat a healthy, balanced diet. Once again we hit a difference of opinion as to what constitutes a healthy diet. Generally five portions of fruit and vegetables a day have been cited as a good target. Recently however a study has suggested that eight portions might be better.

We then hit environmental problems that would change the requirements. Heavy pollution, smoking, stress and other lifestyle factors change the demand for nutrition.

Many people buy their fruit and vegetables from supermarkets where the most popular lines are suspected of having reduced nutrition. I have to say I used to work for a large supermarket chain and discovered anecdotal evidence that pointed to growing practices being at fault. Many lines of produce are grown in sheds where the light is controlled: in this way the growing day can be shortened so the produce grows much faster. The downside of this is the vitamins and minerals normally associated with the varieties involved do not accumulate as they should.

There has also recently been a scare regarding overdoses of vitamins, or vitamin poisoning (Hypervitaminosis). These seem to be largely related to vitamin A, a vitamin often found in the liver of many animals. Oddly enough the livers of polar bears, huskies, seal and walruses contain dangerously high levels of vitamin A. Not surprisingly this is a problem well know to the Inuit people. Other vitamins to be treated with caution are C (which can have a laxative effect) and some strains of vitamin B. Having said this, in the USA, there are more deaths from eating laundry products than from hypervitaminosis. Indeed seventeen of the last twenty-five years have had no recorded deaths from vitamin overdose. Nonetheless it is probably wise to be sensible regarding the levels of vitamins taken.

There is also a great difference between the brands of supplement available on the market. The coating of the tablets themselves is significant. Many cheap lines have a sugar coating to keep the shape of the tablet but can actually cause the tablet to pass through the gut entirely. One operator of mobile lavatories was recorded as observing that his employees frequently found vitamin pills in the pipes of their toilets. A good way to check if the coating of your tablets will dissolve in the stomach is to simply place one in a glass of water. It should start to dissolve within an hour.

A good test of a tablet is to drop it into a glass of water

As with so many products it is often better to opt for the more expensive but natural dietary supplements on the market. Indeed some actually come in powder form, which obviously means the goodness can pass straight into the body. Natural dietary supplements are extremely useful for health but it is always worth researching nutrition and understanding the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) before opting for a particular product and ideally consulting a nutrition professional.

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