सप्लीमेंट्स : जो करें बेहतर पोषण... Nutritional Supplements

पोषक तत्वों से भरे सप्लीमेंट्स

Author : Dr. P. D.GUPTA

Former Director Grade Scientist, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, India


Today we know that vitamins and minerals are essential for bodily functions such as helping to fight infection, wound healing, making our bones strong, and regulating hormones. The Internet is full of the wonders these nutritional supplements can do, from turmeric curing cancer to vitamin D curing COVID. It is hard to keep up with medicine itself without learning a whole new field of nutritional supplements. However, way back in 1912, Casimir Funk coined the term "vitamine". Later, the work and contributions of many scientists, physicians, and chemists took this very important health tool further and identified and added many more vitamins in the original list Examples of nutrients that have been identified as critical for the growth and function of immune cells include vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, selenium, iron, and protein (including the amino acid glutamine).  Folate and vitamins B(6) and B(12) are required for homocysteine metabolism and are associated with coronary heart disease risk. Vitamin E and lycopene may decrease the risk of prostate cancer. Vitamin D is associated with decreased occurrence of fractures when taken with calcium. 

Our body requires these vitamins and minerals in very minute quantities, if taken without a diagnosis of their deficiencies in the system, can cause toxicity. They are therefore designated “Micro Nutrients”. Regarding nutritional supplements USPSTF (United States Preventative Services Task Force) after the years-long study concluded that there was little to no benefit in taking vitamin or mineral supplements to prevent CVD, cancer, or death due to such diseases. In fact, beta-carotene supplementation was associated with an increased risk of lung cancer and other adverse outcomes in patients at increased risk of lung cancer.

Although, nutritional supplements are regulated as foods but they are often marketed like drugs. Our current medical culture pushes us to practice evidence-based medicine. Without evidence, we simply cannot counsel patients about supplements because there is little evidence to support their use.

Additionally, many people assume that they are safe. While this may be true for many of them, some of them can be harmful in several ways. They can interact with medications the patient may be taking for medical conditions. Some of them have been shown to cause liver and other organ damage. When they are used to replace traditional medicine, they can also lead to harm by delaying appropriate medical care. For example, a patient who believes a supplement can treat cancer when it does nothing is delaying care that might save their life. By the time they realize it is not working, the cancer may have advanced too far to be treatable.

While there may be a few studies that do show some efficacy for vitamins and minerals in certain diseases Currently, patients often look for medical information online. However, there is so much misinformation being spread. We need more doctors to speak up about the right medical information. We need to take a firm stand and tell them the evidence regarding these supplements: They are neither FDA-approved nor studied for safety and efficacy. Anyone can sell a supplement and make any claim regarding it that they want. It is much better to eat a healthy, balanced diet to get the vitamins and minerals that you need. Not only do we need to show them the evidence, we need to convince them that it is true. (The author has his own study and views)