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The Truth About Supplements

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Are supplements beneficial? 

Do you think you have a healthy diet and do not need supplements? Are you paying attention that you get enough of the right types of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and legumes, low-fat protein, and dairy products? Or do you feel lacking in energy or that your immune system could use a boost?

In an ideal world, no one would need dietary supplements. We would eat well-balanced diets that provide all the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that our bodies need. Alas, the truth is that most of our eating habits are far from ideal. This is where supplements come in handy, providing you with the support your body needs to stay healthy.

Dietary supplements can be used to correct vitamin and mineral deficiencies that you are not getting via your daily diet. Supplements ensure that you get sufficient nutrients daily. There is clinical evidence that alongside providing health benefits, certain supplements can reduce the symptoms of medical conditions. For example, according to Dr. Jeffrey Millstein, a physician at Penn Internal Medicine Woodbury Heights, “In addition to a healthy diet, there is evidence that some supplements can benefit your overall well-being with little to no risk.”. 

Low-cost budget options for supplements cut corners on quality, skimping on essential nutrients or using less effective versions.
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Taking supplements can be an aid to your overall health

Choosing the right supplements

Supplements are an easy and efficient way to boost your physical or mental health. But there is a great variety available on the market today. From individual vitamins and minerals to blends of nutrients and herbs, there are numerous products that provide specific health benefits. 

Multivitamins contain a combination of vitamins and minerals to fill in nutritional gaps. They are cost-effective and may have more nutrient synergy than individual vitamins. However, the predetermined levels of multivitamins may make it difficult to target the specific nutrients that you need less or more of.  

It is true that multivitamins turn complexity into convenience but no multivitamin can be a one-size-fits-all. There are varying needs like different ages (for example, young children need a higher dosage of vitamin C as their bones are growing), different genders (for example, men need more B vitamins than women), or different stages of life (for example, pregnant women need more iron and folate).  

Supplements are also available in numerous forms, including capsules, powders, and liquids. Each supplement form has its own pros and cons with regards to absorption rate, convenience, ease of use, and cost. Some of these pros and cons are:  

♦ Capsules: the most common form that offers better stability and absorption. There is sometimes even a time-release effect. Cost-effective and easy to carry along but you cannot adjust the dosage. 

♦ Powders: ready to mix into water or juice. Versatile and easy to customize, popular with children. A suitable alternative for those who have travel swallowing pills. May sometimes contain added sugar to make them more palatable. 

♦ Liquids: one of the most readily absorbed forms. Generally better tolerated but its taste may not be delicious.

The dangers of cheap supplements 

Choosing cheap supplements might initially seem like a smart, wallet-friendly move but this is not always true. There is a flip side to what seems like a bargain. 

Often, the low-cost budget options cut corners on quality, skimping on essential nutrients or using less effective versions. Furthermore, low-quality supplements often contain toxic fillers and binders that are bad for your health and well-being. This minimizes the beneficial effects you think you will be getting from the vitamins or minerals that you are adding to your body. 

person's hand holding a white flower with capsule
Research and quality control are essential to ensure the safety and effectiveness of supplements

Some of the areas in which low-cost supplements are questionable are:   

Quality control

One major area of concern with cheap supplements is the quality control and manufacturing standards. Or rather, the lack of. While the healthcare industry is subject to varying degrees of regulation across different countries, producers of inexpensive supplements may exploit regulatory loopholes. 

Or, they may operate from regions where the laws are lax. Without having to comply with stringent regulatory standards, manufacturers are able to produce and distribute substandard products that are cheap. But you should be aware that these products may not meet international quality and safety standards, and that there is no guarantee of their effectiveness. 

Ingredients

To cut costs, some manufacturers may compromise on the quality of raw materials used in the production process. They often use lower-grade ingredients which reduce the efficacy of these supplements. 

Furthermore, low manufacturing standards can lead to the inclusion of contaminants such as heavy metals, pesticides, and microbial agents. This reduces the intended benefits of the supplements and can potentially cause harm to those who take them.

There can also be many unexpected non-medicinal ingredients in cheap supplements. Some of these can trigger adverse reactions in some people. Ingredients may include binders and fillers, preservatives, gluten, colorings, or even sugars, salt, and talc!

Bioavailability

An important aspect of supplements is its bioavailability. This refers to the proportion of the active ingredient that enters the bloodstream and produces the desired effects. 

Low-cost versions often use inferior forms of nutrients, making them less absorbable by your body. This means that while you think you are providing your body with the necessary nutrients, the truth is that your body will not be able to work with these nutrients to maximize your well-being. 

Woman holding baby beside man smiling
Ensure that you have a brighter future by choosing to invest in your health wisely

Misleading labeling

Don’t be misled by paying more attention to your budget than to the long-term health benefits. Cheap supplements often rely on deceptive marketing practices and misleading labeling. 

Manufacturers might exaggerate the potency of their products or use vague terminology to create a fake impression of the effectiveness. There will be no quality certifications, scientific research, or third-party testing. This lack of information should lead to mistrust and a low sense of credibility, but sometimes, people ignore this and focus only on the cost.

Side effects

Inconsistent manufacturing standards and the use of inferior ingredients increase the likelihood of adverse side effects. The potential risks that you may face include allergic reactions, gastrointestinal issues, and interactions with medications. Manufacturers of inexpensive supplements do not invest in research to ensure the safety or tolerability of their products. Thus, you, as a consumer, should be wary when purchasing any such products.

For all these reasons mentioned above, taking cheap supplements is generally a waste of your time and money, both in terms of investment and your health. You can be assured that, in general, the cheaper the supplement, the more likely it contains synthetics and poorer quality ingredients.

Conclusion 

The truth about dietary supplements is that they can be beneficial but are not a panacea. Approached with caution, professional advice, and an emphasis on healthy eating, they can be part of a well-rounded health plan. 

Bear in mind that while cheap supplements may offer initial savings, you should not overlook the long-term cost of compromised health. Inadequate nutrient profiles coupled with potential contaminants and suboptimal formulations of supplements can contribute to health issues over time. This can lead to increased healthcare expenses which will be contradictory to your budget-conscious actions. Investing in high-quality supplements may seem pricier upfront, but the rewards to your long-term health and well-being will outweigh the initial cost difference.    

Consult your doctor before taking any dietary supplements. Discuss potential side effects and interactions with any medication that you may be taking.

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