There are an enormous variety of supplements on the market, claiming a range of benefits, but how can you be sure that they have any effect? The debate about supplements has been rife for many years, with their being no empirical scientific evidence that any of them actually work. But many people believe in their effects, funding a market reported in national press as being worth £650 million in the UK annually.
The cold hard facts are that has never been any solid proof of the benefits of supplements. In fact, a recent study of 500,000 people by the University of Warwick, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, and widely reported across the globe, has shown that vitamin supplements could even be harmful.
The study found that despite the fact that one in three Brits supplement their diets with vitamin pills, they are a waste of money and usually offer no health benefits. The average western diet should provide sufficient vitamin and mineral nutrients that the body needs.
It has taken this long to develop an unequivocal view of the benefits of supplements because it is incredibly difficult to prove without doubt the responsibility for an effect, as there are so many other factors that might affect the body. The market for vitamins supplements is so valuable, and proven so lucrative to the large drugs companies that it was of little interest to vitamin manufacturers to prove that their products were ineffective.
Taking Supplements to Manage a Condition
For a number of years many people have laboured under a misapprehension uncorrected by governments and big businesses and taken a supplement. This was because they suffer from a condition where they have a deficiency in a particular vitamin and are not be able to get the vitamin from something in their diet easily. In these cases patients had taken supplements for up to 12 years but the study found no improvement on cognitive decline.
The Power of the Placebo Effect
The power of placebo is remarkably strong so past claims of the benefits of vitamin supplements could merely be the psychological impact of taking something you believe will promote your health.
When drugs are tested for public use they are measured against a test group of patients who are told they are taking the same supplement as other patients. The effects in this group are found to be remarkably high when compared to the actual drug recipients.
If the placebo effect is real then it suggests the power of the mind over external supplements. You may feel it is wiser to invest a belief in common sense life style options such as exercise, diet and stress management, such as meditation, to provide the benefit you are looking for from supplements.
Ultimately, it is easier to get the appropriate levels (and recommended daily allowances) of vitamins and minerals through a healthy well balanced diet at minimal cost combined with a consistent exercise regime and healthy lifestyle choices.
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