The use and abuse of nutritional supplements (the right way to do it)

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The arbitrary use of nutritional supplements is nothing uncommon. A lot of people take multivitamins, Vitamin B, K, D, B12, biotin, zinc, magnesium, iron supplements, believing that it will make up for whatever nutrients their bodies are deficient in and will also solve their health problems. But is it possible to overdose on supplements? Let’s find out
Dr. Sanjay Raina, Head, Department of Internal Medicine, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad shares, “Unmonitored nutritional intake of multivitamins can lead to overdose toxicity. For example, excess Vitamin A is toxic to liver skin and nervous system. Vitamin D excess is harmful for kidneys due to excess calcium.” Nutritionist Kavita Devgan further adds, “Any supplement taken arbitrarily will only cause harm. Only after testing on advice of a dietician or a doctor should one take supplements. For example, too much zinc can lead to nausea, loss of appetite and low levels of good HDL cholesterol. Too much magnesium may lead to diarrhea or irregular heartbeat. Excessive iron could lead to organ damage. These are the effects we know about, there might be many more which are not yet studied or researched.”

Dr. Sandeep Sonawane, Consultant, Internal Medicine at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Navi Mumbai feels that a balanced diet consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables can easily fulfill daily nutritional requirements. “Furthermore, it is important to exercise caution when taking supplements that contain metals, as they may harm the kidneys and liver. Therefore, it is best to consume such supplements only after receiving proper medical advice.”
“Excessive or unmonitored consumption of nutritional supplements can result in nutritional toxicity, particularly heavy metal poisoning, which can harm essential organs such as the kidneys, liver, eyes, brain, and skin. Consuming an excess of vitamin C can result in acidity and gastritis. Overconsumption of zinc, selenium, and magnesium may also have detrimental effects on the kidneys. Moreover, excessive calcium intake can lead to the formation of kidney stones. Therefore, it is important to regulate the consumption of nutritional supplements to ensure that they are beneficial rather than detrimental to your health.”

The right way to take Vitamin D supplement

A lot of us pick Vitamin D sachets randomly, with the limited information that it needs to be taken on a weekly basis. But that is not all, says Dr Sandeep. “Vitamin D supplements come in two forms: oil-based and water-based. Oil-based supplements are best taken after significant meals, as they are absorbed better when consumed with food. Water-based supplements, on the other hand, can be taken regardless of meals. As Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, oily preparations are preferred over water-based supplements.

The dosage of Vitamin D supplements is determined based on an individual’s deficiency and requirements, and it is recommended to consult a doctor for the exact dosage and duration of treatment.”

The right way to take Iron supplements

Iron supplements are required only if a person has low body iron or during pregnancy. Dr Sanjay suggests that dose and duration of iron therapy depends upon the degree of deficiency. “Iron should be taken empty stomach for better absorption but can be taken with food if not tolerated empty stomach. Concurrent Vitamin C increases absorption of iron.

It is crucial to regulate iron intake as excessive consumption can lead to stomach discomfort and other related issues, adds Dr Sandeep.

The pros and cons of random health tests

After reaching the age of 40, individuals can undergo yearly health packages. “However, it is important to note that some health packages may include non-specific tests that are not necessary for routine checkups. If an individual is suffering from any illness, their health checkup should include disease-specific tests relevant to their condition. It is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate health package that meets one’s specific needs, shares Dr Sandeep.

A number of diagnostic health checks are available in the market today. These do offer a discounted price but contain many tests not actually needed for that individual. Minor abnormalities shown on the tests lead to avoidable anxiety and subsequent unnecessary physician consultations, adds Dr Sanjay.

Random health tests can have adverse psychological impact, lead to paranoia, higher stress which impact the body negatively. Plus a hole in the pocket. The tests that included radiation risk are especially worse off, concludes Kavita.

Verdict

Clearly, overdose of nutrients can lead to serious side effects. This makes it important to plan out your meals in such a manner that it supplements your body well. Consulting your doctor should help you know about the right tests for your body along with the right diagnosis and dosage. Remember to factor in how much nutrients you are getting from your food sources. This consciousness will go a long way…



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