Popularity of Vitamins Supplements

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The vitamin supplement industry has become enormous in the last few decades. Some people believe vitamins contribute substantially to their health and never skip a day taking them. Others believe that they either do nothing or that they can even cause harm.

Advantages and arguments to support taking vitamin supplements:

  • Many believe that we do not receive adequate vitamin intake from our diets, and believe that vitamins in supplement form need to be taken daily. They argue that essential vitamins are lost through food over-processing, long storage periods and cooking methods.

  • Many supplement users list the benefits of the various vitamins and argue thereby that vitamin supplements are essential. For example, vitamin A strengthens immunity against infections and vitamin C protects cells and keeps them healthy. Since these are important functions, we should all want to take vitamins.

  • Since the main source of vitamin D is sunlight, those who are housebound or darker skinned individuals can benefit from taking a vitamin D supplement. Children who are fussy eaters and adults who follow unusual diets can also be given vitamin supplements. Vegans may need a vitamin B12 supplement, since that is not found in grains, fruit and vegetables. And pregnant women are encouraged to take folic acid and vitamin D supplements.

  • Supplement-takers might argue that, since vitamins might be beneficial and won’t do any damage, people may just as well take them.

Why you may not need supplements:

  • While it is true that some modern methods of handling food destroy some nutritional value, almost all studies show that the majority of people can get the necessary vitamins in their daily diets. After all, beriberi, pellagra, scurvy and rickets, the most common diseases associated with vitamin deficiencies, rarely occur in developed countries.

  • Benefits of vitamins can easily be found in a well-balanced diet.  After all, our bodies need so little vitamin A that one animal protein meal a week will provide us with more than we need. Vitamin C is contained in so many foods that we inevitably get enough; for example, oranges, kiwi fruit, peppers, sweet potatoes, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Further, with the amount of meats and dairy products that people typically eat, vitamin B is over-supplied in most of our diets.

  • Medical studies have, however, found that an over-supply of some vitamins can be harmful. For example, too much vitamin C can lead to stomach pain and diarrhea while copious amounts of B3 can cause skin flushes and even liver damage.

The choice is yours on whether or not to take a vitamin supplement.