They’re supposed to be good for you. They’re supposed to keep you healthy. But do they really make a difference?
Taking a vitamin or health supplement is supposedly beneficial. It keeps ailments at bay. The logic is sound. If something is lacking in your body, then you are exposing yourself to dangers. The body is weakened, less resistant, vulnerable to attack. That’s when you are most likely to pick up an illness. By taking a vitamin you are ensuring your body is not lacking in any of the essentials it needs.
With the winter approaching, with more of those sickness bugs about I thought it might be in my best interests to start taking them.
The trouble is that although I am dutifully taking the pills, I don’t know whether or not they are actually having any impact.
I’m not ill. Nor have I been since taking them. But is that down to them or have I just been lucky to not catch anything. On the positive side, I feel like I do have more energy, my brain feels sharper and I don’t seem to feel quite so tired. But is that just in the mind. Do I think that because that’s how I’m supposed to think?
The strength of any vitamins may be purely in the mind. The fact that you think they’re doing you some good may be sufficient to make you feel better. It is the power of the sub-conscious to affect the body – if you don’t believe you will get ill then quite often you won’t.
The taking of vitamins is supposed to guard against getting ill but there is no apparent, readily identifiable causal link between the two actions. I take the vitamins, but I cannot prove that they have stopped me from getting ill. That’s the problem with preventative medicine – you just don’t know if it’s that which is making the difference.
There is also a bigger picture as well. I’m primarily thinking in terms of their use as a counter-measure to catching a cold during the winter season. What about other, more consequential conditions that may or may not be linked to our diets – dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, cancers, Parkinson’s. If we can’t effectively measure any short-term benefits that taking supplements might have what hope is there for judging any longer-term advantage?
It might be true that if you are ill or regularly get ill then, after starting on the vitamins, your illness disappears or eases or never re-occurs then there may be a case to propose.
But for me, somebody who is generally quite healthy and just wants to stay that way, are they really of any benefit? There may be scientific evidence that says they work; there may be anecdotal evidence that says they work; there may be statistical data that says they work. But it never seems to be conclusive.
In my case, I just don’t know whether or not they are doing any good.
Of course, vitamins do have a natural appeal. They are often thought of as a panacea for poor diet. We can eat what we want rather than what we should eat and taking a vitamin will resolve any deficiencies that might arise. One hundred percent of our recommended daily intake…it’s very appealing. It excuses us from eating a broad, well-balanced diet. We can eat what we want!
That’s not quite where I am at with them. I am not being that reliant on vitamins. I’m using them more as an insurance policy. They are a form of protection. They just cover me if there are any gaps in my diet.
After all, they don’t seem to do me any harm and it only works out at costing a few pence per day. Why take the risk of suffering from any deficiency when I don’t have to?
And now, having embarked on my daily vitamin routine, I’m rather scared to stop taking them. I even worry when I accidentally miss a day. Their absence might be noticed, and I might become a target for illness.
That’s merely the beginning of my paranoia. The more you read about vitamins, especially any sales literature, the more vitamins you will think you should be taking. They all make claims to bring some health or well-being benefit.
- Vitamin A aids your vision.
- Turmeric contains curcumin which has anti-inflammatory properties and therefore may be useful in preventing arthritis.
- Ginkgo Biloba improves memory.
- Glucosamine and Chondroitin stimulate the growth of cartilage and therefore may be beneficial in osteoarthritis.
- Evening primrose oil prevents eczema.
- Cod liver oil prevents heart disease.
The list goes on. Vitamins and supplements will not only claim to protect you from certain medical conditions but, in some cases, they will also claim to enhance bodily performance – your memory, your muscles, your mental agility.
Taken in by the claims, before you know it, you could be on some sort of substantive vitamin cocktail. Who knows what, if any, damage that might do to your body! Where do you draw the line?
Vitamins should not be taken as an easy solution. They are a back-up which may or may not be required. It’s like taking an umbrella out when going for a walk on a cloudy day – it’s there in case you need it. If the weather does turn, you might just be grateful for your precautionary actions.