Verdit : Hype
Supplements have gone beyond a multivitamin or iron capsule. Today, they come in various forms: from sophisticated combinations — vitamin D3 with K2, K1, MK7, MK4, for instance, to ‘heritage’ Ayurveda powders: ashwagandha, milk thistle. Or companies sell them in the form of health drinks and protein shakes. “The problem is that they’re prescribed by everyone from your gym instructor to your neighbour, and can be bought over the counter or ordered online,” says Manjari Chandra, a Delhi-based dietician. Companies may either use fear (the fear of disease), guilt (in the case of supplements for children), or the promise of better health, to sell supplements, she says.
In an ideal scenario, if you have a problem, check with your doctor on what tests you should take. If you’re working with a dietician (and are disease-free), make sure she is registered (ask for her RD no. if you need to) and that she has at least 10 years of work experience. In special cases, such as when you’re pregnant or recovering from an illness, your doctor will prescribe supplements along with medication. If you already have a medical problem, speak to your doctor.
Anju Sood, a Bengaluru-based dietician, says the best way to get nutrients is from food. She says she’s seeing people as young as in their 20s and early 30s, popping supplements, in the belief that they can prevent disease. “Self-medication is very dangerous. If someone is young and healthy and on a supplement, it can bring down the body’s absorption of nutrients from food,” she says.
Even if you’re over 40 and both you and your friend have knee pain, you can’t share medication without a consultation, for a variety of reasons: the salt, dosage, and combinations need to be balanced. “Calcification, hypervitaminosis, and metal toxicity are all problems. Because a lot of supplements are lab-made, there may be heavy metals, like mercury, and minerals like arsenic, introduced into your system,” says Manjari.
The best bet is to invest in diet, exercise, and a spot of sunshine, to keep your body and mind healthy.
In this column, we decode health trends and decide if it’s all just ‘hype’ or actually ‘happening’