I am 61 year old who takes vitamins. Some of my friends told me that vitamins are a waste of my money. What’s your take on that?”
Thank you for asking me this important question Belinda. The answer is simply these people have no idea what they’re talking about. Nutrition supplements are concentrated forms of nutrients, typically in a tablet or a capsule, that are either essential to, or likely beneficial to your health. Nearly all of these nutrients would be found in a wholesome, diverse diet and therein lies part of the problem. Most of us don’t eat the way we should.
With our fast-paced stress-filled lives, fewer people have the luxury of cooking meals from scratch. Worse, more of us end up relying on fast foods and microwave, convenience, or snack foods. These foods may satisfied our hunger pangs, but they are highly processed, meaning that most of their original nutritional value has been removed.
As a consequence, many people do not consume all of the vitamins and minerals they need for optimal health, which means their bodies break down and become susceptible to disease earlier than they should. Countless studies have found many of us are shortchanged when it comes to vitamin C, vitamin E, many B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and many other essential nutrients. In a very real sense, as other people have astutely observed, we are starving on full stomachs.
Even when we eat healthy foods, many things can sabotage how our bodies use nutrients. For example, tobacco products deplete vitamins C and E. Antibiotics disrupt the gut’s ability to absorb B vitamins. Antacids interfere with calcium and other minerals. Cholestrol-lowering “statin” drugs lower the body productions of coenzyme Q10 a vitamin like nutrient needed for energy and normal heart function.
When you consider these factors, as well as that our individual genetic differences may affect absorption, it becomes clear that we would be better off to “err” on the side of nutritional insurance. At the very least, l believe, every person should take moderately high-potency daily vitamin and mineral supplement. Many of us could likely benefit from larger amounts of other supplements, tailored to our diets and lifestyles.
You might be wondering how nutritional supplements and drugs differ. After all, both usually come in capsules and tablets. Their differences are important to keep in mind. Drugs are foreign substances to the body, and they work by forcefully altering the body’s normal biochemical processes. In my view, drugs are low doses of poisons, with side effects that often outweighs their benefits.
How dangerous are prescription drugs? Consider a couple of examples. Are you really better off if an antidepressant drug improves your mood but leaves you with erectile dysfunction? Or is it worthwhile to take hormone replacement therapy to relieve hot flashes, when such drugs will increase your risk of heart attack and cancer? Such issues should concern everyone who takes a drug. According to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, prescription drugs cause the deaths of more than 100,000 hospitalized Americans each year, making them a leading cause of death.
At best, drugs only mask the symptoms of diseases while failing to treat their underlying causes. Sometimes, they even make a disease worse. For example, ibuprofen and some other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can temporarily relieve the pain of osteoarthritis, but over the long term, they speed the breakdown of joint cartilage, the very cause of osteoarthritis.
In contrast, vitamins, minerals, and the nutritional substances in herbs are substances normally found in the body. They foster the myriad normal biochemical processes that literally do everything, such as burn food for energy, beat your heart, enable your eyes to see, fight infections, further thinking processes, and much more. I have heard many physicians and their patients speak of surprising “side benefits” after taking a nutritional supplements, when more than the intended health problem is resolved.
As a health writer and nutritionist, l have spent most of my life delving into the relationship between nutrition and health. In my mind, the evidence supporting the benefits of vitamins, minerals, and herbs is overwhelming and persuasive. And on a very personal level, l have seen how dietary changes and supplements have greatly improved my own health, helping me lose weight and dramatically reverse many diseases.
I hope l answered your question fully. Good Luck and wishing you best of health.