Nutritional supplements sound like a great idea. Take a handful of pills “just in case” you’re missing anything. The truth is, if you follow the magic three – diet, exercise and water intake – you won’t need supplements. The problem is, virtually none of us do this!
Most supplements, vitamins and minerals taken in moderation won’t hurt most folks, but be careful. For example, it was recently discovered that supplemental doses of beta-carotene in cigarette smokers could lead to a four-fold increase in lung cancer.
Remember that most prescription drugs are derived from plants. These products are refined to the point of having only one active ingredient. By contrast, herbal supplements typically contain a host of chemicals; the activity and potency can vary depending on the manufacturer. Also, herbal supplements can have serious side effects just like their prescription counterparts, so know what you are taking. Finally, some supplements – especially those coming from outside the US – can be contaminated with other ingredients such as heavy metals.
In summary: supplements, vitamins, minerals and herbs often help supplement our poor diets and lifestyles but they are not a cure-all and can have significant side effects, so pay attention.