What are dietary supplements capable of?
What are dietary supplements capable of?

Many vitamins can be bought today, which, according to manufacturers, can save the person taking them from everything in the world. When is it advisable to take dietary supplements?

In any pharmacy today you can buy a great variety of vitamins and vitamin-mineral complexes, which, according to manufacturers, can save the person who takes them from everything in the world. But is it really so?

Zinc and vitamin C for colds, vitamin B for maintaining beauty, or even at once a lot of substances from A to Z in one tablet. The shelves in pharmacies and supermarkets are getting longer and wider and wider. And supposedly there is no such sore in the world for which pills have not yet been invented.

New buzz: vitamin water or high-dose immunity stimulants such as Bayer's Berocca, which promise a "boost of energy" to everyone who needs it. And in many countries, Bayer effervescent tablets are popular as a hangover remedy after drinking the night before. These preparations are supposedly suitable for everyone: visitors to student and factory canteens, and hamburger lovers, and vegetarians - after all, an extra portion of vitamins will not harm anyone, right?

No it is not true. Moreover, it can harm both your body and your wallet. After all, the market for dietary supplements in Germany has a turnover of millions and millions of euros and continues to grow thanks to the fear of consumers for their own health.

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Lying about a lack of vitamins

Talk that the Germans lack vitamins are nothing more than fairy tales. The ubiquitous advertising and the huge range of dietary supplements give the impression that with "regular" food we do not get enough of the nutrients we need. But this is absolutely not the case, states the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment. It is only recently that the specialized publication Ernährungs-Umschau (Nutritional Review) (59/2012) has provided data on the level of fortification in Germany. The results of various studies were also presented, according to which the majority of Germans receive a sufficient amount of vitamins.

Diseases associated with a lack of vitamins are extremely rare in Germany, and in the course of studies it was not possible to confirm that the effects of improper diet and lifestyle in general can be compensated by taking dietary supplements, emphasizes the German Nutrition Society.

Uncertainty in the sufficient intake of vitamins causes numerous publications among citizens, in which manufacturers of expensive vitamin preparations are trying to substantiate their usefulness. However, such publications are often inaccurate, contain insufficient statistics or incorrect comparisons, and do not meet the scientific standards set by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. This was found out by Eva Bradac, a graduate student at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, having studied in detail the publications on the dietary supplement called Juiceplus.

Berocca preparation

In addition, it turned out that often the authors of the studies were in some way connected with the manufacturer of the drug, for example, in the case of the above-mentioned drug Berocca. According to research, these high-dose pills are beneficial for people with high emotional and physical stress. However, the first and last name of one of the Bayer Consumer Council members is not hard to spot on the list of study authors. It also indicates that the study was funded by Bayer. In addition, the authors themselves pointed out numerous limitations in the interpretation of his results. Thus, an improvement in mental performance was found when completing just one math task. On the other items, there was no significant difference between the results of the participants taking Berocca and those taking the placebo pill. In addition, the researchers did not take into account the food addictions of the experimental subjects (a total of 215 people) and did not conduct preliminary measurements of the content of the corresponding vitamins and minerals in their blood. The effect of the numerous elements contained in the preparation on the metabolism of the test subjects has also not been studied.

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Not only unnecessary, but also harmful

In addition, it should be noted that most consumers simply do not know that there are almost no legislative norms regulating the use of dietary supplements. They also do not know that dietary supplements, unlike drugs, are not subject to mandatory testing for their usefulness or harmfulness.

And the fact that they can be harmful is confirmed by the example of the Juiceplus drug: it contains such a high dose of vitamin A that the medicine, in a similar case, on the packaging would have warned smokers about the increased risk of lung cancer.

E-commerce provides huge opportunities for enrichment for manufacturers of all kinds of foreign weight loss drugs - consumers should understand that such drugs are often imported into Germany illegally and can be potentially dangerous.

And thus, the multicolored pill market is booming. After all, the idea that you can continue to eat pizza, fries and hamburgers, and get the missing elements from pills, is very attractive. “Many people take dietary supplements to calm their consciences. But malnutrition cannot be compensated for simply by taking pills,”says Helmut Heseker, head of the German Nutrition Society. A recent poll by the Forsa sociological service showed that almost every third German takes dietary supplements. According to the consulting company IMS Health, the annual turnover of this market is about 900 million euros. Most of the turnover falls on preparations containing magnesium and calcium; they are followed by preparations with multivitamins and microelements.

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How to speed up your metabolism? 20 ways to boost your metabolism and stay fit

Thus, the Germans give a lot of money for something whose health benefits are not only unconfirmed, but completely questionable. The risk is especially high when taking “high-dose drugs for an extended period of time and taking additionally fortified foods at the same time,” warns Hesecker. In highly developed countries, to which Germany belongs, fortified drinks, cornflakes, sandwich spreads and hard candies are widespread. As shown by a survey conducted by Eva Bradach in the process of working on her dissertation, many people also take multivitamin preparations and in parallel with them fortified foods.

The danger of an overdose is, first of all, when taking vitamins assimilated by taking fats: unlike vitamins that are soluble in water, their surplus is almost not excreted from the body. An overdose of them can lead to dire consequences. Here are just a few examples.

The risks of taking isolated beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, have been known for a long time. Among active smokers and workers who "breathe" asbestos on construction sites, there was an increased incidence of lung cancer and increased mortality from cardiovascular diseases.

Even considered relatively safe vitamin C can have unwanted side effects: for example, Goodman & Gilman's book The pharmaceutical basis of therapeutics warns of the risk of kidney stones from vitamin C overdose. iron in the worst cases, possible manifestations of poisoning, which can lead to kidney and liver damage. In addition, the latest research suggests that long-term iron overdose is associated with an increased risk of heart attack and cancer.

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How to speed up your metabolism? 20 ways to boost your metabolism and stay fit

In addition, taking dietary supplements can have undesirable consequences while taking medications or other dietary supplements, warn experts from the Institute for Risk Assessment. Therefore, their reception is possible only after prior consultation with a doctor. In some cases, it is possible to reduce or increase the effect of taking the drug.

When is it advisable to take dietary supplements?

In some cases, supplemental intake of vitamins and minerals, however, may make sense. Vitamin D is a special case. It is the only vitamin that a person receives from food only by 10-20%, and the rest of the body is produced by itself thanks to solar radiation. In particular, vitamin D is essential for strong bones. The Food Society recommends spending at least 5-25 minutes a day outdoors with your face, hands, and feet uncovered to get the right amount of sunlight to produce vitamin D.

In winter in our latitudes, ultraviolet radiation is too weak, but people who spend a long time in the fresh air in summer accumulate sufficient reserves in their bodies in order to painlessly survive the "dark" season and do without artificial supplements with vitamin D. however, those who spend too little time in the sun or hide their skin from the sun under clothes for religious reasons are at risk: their body cannot produce enough vitamin D on its own, and such people must take drugs containing it. However, this should be discussed with your doctor, as vitamin D overdose can have side effects such as kidney stones or other kidney problems.

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How to speed up your metabolism? 20 ways to boost your metabolism and stay fit

Pregnant and lactating women also need improved nutrition. Therefore, if necessary, they need to take additional preparations containing iron and iodine. Women planning to become pregnant need folic acid to prevent fetal malnutrition, the Nutrition Society warns.

However, the basic rule says: dietary supplements should be taken only if a person really lacks certain elements. A healthy and properly nourished person receives all the necessary substances in sufficient quantities. In addition, many other substances, such as amino acids or fiber substances, are found in fruits and vegetables. In such cases, vitamin tablets cannot be considered as a complete replacement. Those who fear for the usefulness of their own nutrition should consult with their doctor, but do not prescribe for themselves uncontrolled use of over-the-counter drugs.

Source: Jana Reiblein, WirtschaftsWoche Heute, inosmi.ru

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