We live in a fast-paced world that demands a balance between our personal and professional lives. The idea of a healthy lifestyle seems almost inaccessible. However, as we struggle to achieve the perfect work-life balance, it is only natural we seek all the help we can get. Coming to our aid at a time when we have long forgotten the looks of a balanced diet are health supplements. Taking a few supplements such as vitamins and minerals has turned into a common practice over the years. The additional factor that health supplements have become more accessible in the form of granule bars, energy drinks, and capsules has only contributed further to the rise in the number of consumers.
While it is a common assumption that health supplements can only have benefits, it has been often proven otherwise. As consumers, it is imperative to be aware that these supplements may sometimes do more harm than good. The following are a few reasons to be cautious of supplements in order to avoid any adverse impact on your health and lifestyle:
While it is easy to get carried away by the notion that additional nutrients can only have health benefits, the assumption is only partially correct. There is a possibility that you might be overconsuming your supplements and this may lead to both minor and major health issues in the near future. Common examples are excess consumption of vitamins such as B2 causing visible changes such as discolouration of urine over time and excess vitamin C causing gastrointestinal dysfunctions.
While overconsumption can be checked and reduced, a constant overdose of supplements can lead to major health problems. Consuming excess supplements over large durations of time can cause potentially fatal organ damage. For instance, taking high doses of vitamin supplements may eventually lead to liver damage.
Harmful interaction with prescribed medicine
If you are under medication prescribed by your doctor, there is a possibility that your supplements may interact with the drug and severely alter the course of your treatment. For instance, studies show that St. John’s wort, which is used as a supplement to treat depression and anxiety-related disorders, taken in combination with certain antidepressants can cause serious harm to a patient.
Reduction in the effectiveness of prescribed medicine
Some supplements have been known to actively hinder the effect of prescribed medication. Supplements such as the St. John’s wort may reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills, heart medications, and certain transplant drugs.
Temporary Side Effects
A number of supplements consumed on a daily basis tend to have certain side effects that might go unnoticed altogether. Excessive consumption of Vitamin A may cause regular headaches; excess magnesium may cause diarrhoea in certain individuals. While these side effects may not cause severe disturbances to the lifestyle, they are a bother to most people. It is advisable to beware of the common side effects of the supplements before consumption.
Effects on Cancer
A few studies suggest that overconsumption of certain supplements such as Vitamin A over long intervals of time may lead to a higher risk of cancer developing in an individual. Studies have also suggested that women who consume soy as a supplement are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer as opposed to women who did not consume soy supplements or soy-based protein.
Effects on Chemotherapy
It is advisable to avoid supplements if you are a cancer patient or survivor. The consumption of certain supplements such as Vitamin C and E are known to have actively reduced the effect of chemotherapy in certain cancer patients.
Risk of Heart Diseases
The excess consumption of supplements such as calcium which are known to be good for the heart may have a reverse effect instead. The risk of excess calcium settling in the arteries may lead to the risk of heart diseases as opposed to reducing them.
Supplements and the “illusory invulnerability”
As people who consume supplements, it is easy to believe that a healthy diet and lifestyle that includes eating in moderation, sleeping well, and exercising can all be replaced using easily available basic supplements. A study conducted by researchers at John Hopkins University found that certain sets of individuals who regularly consumed supplements believed they were healthier than they actually were and were inclined to make less healthy lifestyle choices as compared to their counterparts who did not take supplements on a regular basis. The researchers have termed this placebo effect-like scenario the “illusory invulnerability”. While supplements rarely cause fatal damage, the inclination of consumers in believing that supplements alone aid in a healthier lifestyle may lead to overall lax attitudes towards both physical and mental health.
The main takeaway from this article would be that moderation is key. While it is a good way to achieve a balanced diet and a healthier lifestyle by actively consuming certain supplements, it has a number of risks of its own. However, the negative impacts of these supplements on your health can be avoided by taking simpler steps and being more cautious. You may consider making simple conscious choices such as reading the labels on the supplements that you consume. When in doubt, research is key. All the information you need is only a search away. Ensuring that you are taking the right supplements in adequate amounts is necessary. It’s almost always advisable to consult your doctor in the rare case that you do not find enough information or if you are on medication.
There is no single path to achieving the healthy lifestyle that we are all after. However, it is always pivotal to remember that certain habits such as eating healthy and exercising are irreplaceable. Thus, making active healthier choices every day while also keeping ourselves educated and in check, as we take supplements would only contribute eventually to both looking and feeling healthier.
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