Vitamin supplements are one of the most contentious issues in the world of health and fitness.
In one corner you have a host of fierce proponents convinced that supplements are a daily necessity. And in the other, you have those who claim that vitamin supplementation is of absolutely no use at all. Which of these parties is right? Well, like many things in life, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. So should you be stocking up on B12, C, D and the rest of the gang? Let’s find out.
The case against supplements
With a history that probably dates back to your mum whining at you about taking your vitamins, how can it be that they’re not good for you? It’s just common sense… right? Well, as it turns out, vitamins – or at least vitamin supplementation – may not actually be any good for us at all. According to an article by The Guardian back in 2013, scientists across the world believe that this kind of supplementation “has no clear benefit and might even be harmful”. The obvious believe in the wider world is that taking supplements will boost the core benefits of the vitamins (like taking vitamin C for an energy boost and so on). Unfortunately, that’s really not how any of this works.
The vitamin overdose
The crux of the problem is that the varied diets that we enjoy are (for most people) enough to meet our nutritional requirements. With that in mind, throwing extra vitamins into a diet which is already reaching the 100% recommended daily allowance (RDA) can spell trouble. People are essentially overdosing on vitamins, and that’s not as harmless as it sounds. There are some vitamins which, when taken in large enough quantities, can be harmful to the body. For example, taking too much vitamin C can cause stomach cramps, nausea and diarrhoea – and that’s no fun for anyone. One of the problems is that vitamin ‘overdoses’ can occur slowly over time with no clear warning signs, and often go misdiagnosed. That’s a real grey area, and it’s one we’re in no rush to venture into ourselves.
The exception to the rule
There are of course plenty of cases where taking vitamin supplements is actively encouraged. For people diagnosed with vitamin deficiencies, these are almost essential. In these cases, these folks are simply not getting enough of a specific vitamin through their regular diet, and that too can be harmful. It’s something of a balancing act for those sensitive to vitamin levels, but for most of us, it doesn’t even really bear thinking about. Vitamin supplementation is – and science is backing us up on this one – a huge waste of time. It’s worth noting that there are some non-vitamin supplements which can be beneficial. A solid example are fish oils like Omega 3. The body cannot manufacture these oils itself, but they are beneficial to the brain’s cognitive abilities as well as other core bodily functions, so supplementation makes good sense.
What are your thoughts on vitamin supplementation? Complete daily necessity or huge waste of money? Let us know in the comments or via Facebook or Twitter!