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Arguments for and Against the Regular Use of Vitamin Supplements

by Lynda France 

There are certain problems that do arise with the use and misuse of nutritional supplementation. The first concerns the fact that there is variable toxicity levels with certain nutrients. One might read or hear anecdotally that a particular vitamin increases heart health at a given dosage. So, of course, if it is good at that dosage, then, of course, it will be even better at a larger dosage. There can be a misconception that vitamins and minerals are natural and then therefore totally harmless. To some extent, this is a misnomer. Another difficulty with supplementation arises when people displace a doctor's specific diagnosis for what may be a serious malady. They rely on self-diagnosis and supplementation, which is meant only for general conditions. Lastly, a consumer may be uneducated about the interdependency of many supplements. Large dosages of one single vitamin or mineral may displace another. A specific vitamin or mineral might be meant to be taken in conjunction with another vitamin or mineral to be utilized efficiently. This information may not be totally available to a consumer buying from a store that doesn't have an educated staff on hand.

Given all of the above arguments, one might wonder why anyone would want to supplement their diet with such dangerous products. Others might argue that these observations are one sided and perhaps somewhat misguided. For instance, we read about the toxic dangers of vitamins and minerals. Yet, when we look at the number of people who report to their doctor side effects of their supplements, it turns out statistically fairly insignificant. This is important when we consider that nearly 10,000 people died last year from medications prescribed by their physician!!! So it would seem that concentrating on the number of people with complications from supplements in any given year is a bit comical. Making a judgment that people are substituting a doctor's advice for their own diagnosis is again somewhat misleading. Studies show that most people shopping at a health food store give high priority to their health. They are most interested in obtaining and ensuring this quality of their lives. Studies also show that the majority of them are fairly educated, which would again indicate a high degree of sophistication. But even if all those arguments were valid, I believe there are still important reasons why one would want to ensure they were paying close attention to their dietary needs visa vi their supplementation needs. In my state along, there have been studies showing that food no longer contains what it did only a decade ago. The state of Wisconsin did a study on the protein content of corn. When compared with the protein content contained in corn 10 years before, it now had 50% less!!! Have our bodies' need for protein diminished? No. The quality of the product has changed. That was one study, done on one nutrient. But it isn't a big leap to believe that perhaps it might be a harbinger of things to come. All of that considered, there are certain situations in which supplementation is advisable. If you are a vegetarian, supplementation of B12 is advisable. Calcium for people with bone loss is another situation. People with certain genetic related diseases need extra supplementation. The list truly goes on and on.

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