Up until recently, mainstream medicine openly discouraged healthy people from taking vitamin supplements. Now this position has changed, as studies now show that vitamin supplements could reduce the risk of several common diseases. Some doctors however continue to tell their patients that vitamin supplements are unnecessary if they eat a ‘balanced’ diet.
In April 1998, the editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine was entitled ‘Eat Right and Take a Multi Vitamin’. This article declared that certain vitamin supplements could reduce the risk of heart attacks and
strokes. This was the first time that a prestigious medical journal was recommending vitamin supplements. An even stronger endorsement for the use of vitamin supplements came in 2002 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It reported on Harvard University research that showed that people who consumed enough vitamins might prevent common illnesses like cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis.
Today a third of Americans take multivitamins and the same trend is developing across the developed and developing world. However research suggests that as much as one third of dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals and herbals), have one or all of the following problems:
• The product does not contain what the label says it should.
• The product contains other undisclosed substances not on the label which may create a health hazard.
• The active ingredients in a supplement may be poorly absorbed by the system, and thus ineffective.
Fortunately, the Jamaican Health Ministry has been active in seeking to protect the interests of the public in this matter. I hope, however, that in doing so the right of individuals to choose supplements for themselves will not be infringed on. In reality, the possible problems that may arise from taking supplements are minute when compared with the side effects of prescription medication. Just imagine, over 150,000 Americans die each year from the side effects of drugs prescribed by their doctors! By contrast, the Center for Disease Control reports no deaths at all from the use of vitamin and herbal supplements. The following guidelines will help you in your choice of nutritional supplements.
Choose a reputable brand
The cheapest brand is not necessarily the best. Choose products from a company that has a well established reputation for high quality, effective products.
Talk with individuals who have used that brand and have them share their experience with you. Well-trained network marketers of nutritional supplements are particularly helpful in this regard, as they are usually heavy consumers
of the products they sell. The long term success of their business depends on their clients getting good results. Some health food store personnel may also be helpful. I myself very carefully select the brand of supplements I recommend to my clients.
Read the labels
The US Food and Drug Administration does not approve dietary supplements but use certain laws to regulate their use. The Labeling Law says that any potential side effect that a dietary supplement may have and any warnings about the use of such a product should appear on the product label. Make it a habit to carefully read the labels of the supplement products you take.
The law also strictly restricts supplement manufacturers from making medical claims that have not been scientifically validated. Unfortunately, unscrupulous manufacturers still get away with outright fraud and that is why I so strongly recommend that you do your own due diligence and only use products from highly reputable companies.
Pay little attention to RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) values on the labels. The RDA is the minimum amount of a vitamin necessary to prevent a seriously deficient. Many experts believe that RDA levels are far too low for optimal health benefits and that the RDA is obsolete and irrelevant to modern nutritional practice.
The more informed you become about nutrition, the more responsibility you can take for maintaining excellent health. There are many books, tapes, seminars and Internet sites that provide good information. I recommend my own
books, articles and radio show as good sources of health information. Remember, ‘Your Health is in your Hands’.
Talk with your doctor
It is important that your physician knows that you are taking supplements. If your doctor is unwilling to discuss the matter with you, then I would suggest that you seek a second opinion or even change your health care provider.
Remember that doctors are often not well educated about nutrition and nutritional supplementation.
Balance your nutrition
Despite their importance, supplements alone are not a replacement for a balanced, healthy diet. They should complement and supplement your diet. Try to have at least seven servings of fresh fruits and vegetables daily, as they contain a variety of substances, known and unknown with powerful health benefits. Have enough protein, fibre and water. Include a high quality nutritional protein shake drink in your daily diet, plus a good multivitamin/mineral tablet, key elements of the Cellular Nutrition program I recommend.