Are SUPPLEMENTS Necessary?
Updated: Sep 10
A lot of people believe that Supplements are full of side effects. It is sad to know that people have such opinions about supplements and that nobody takes the effort to understand what supplements are, what their need is, and why people have them. What are supplements? Are supplements necessary, or can we do without supplements? Do supplements have side effects? Let's seek answers from science to address common concerns about supplements, clear doubts, bust myths, and, most importantly, set our thinking in the right direction.
People are often given incorrect advice on supplements like whey protein, branched-chain amino acids or BCAA, glutamine, creatine monohydrate, etc., which results in misleading information. Before we ingest any supplement, it is essential to know whether or not we require it and how will it help us. Before we proceed further, let's quickly look at the alleged side effects of supplements.
The alleged Side Effects of Supplements:
Liver failure etc.
The reason people Believe in tragic Side Effects of Supplements:
We are bombarded with information from authentic and contaminated sources and are overwhelmed with the amount of data. Unfortunately, the media has miserably failed to educate the mass about the facts and bust the myths of supplements. That is the reason one can't entirely blame the people for being misguided.
The media talks a lot about the ill effects of supplements in general and the consequences of protein supplements in particular. Ironically it's the same media that talks about responsible drinking. It's like promoting alcohol consumption under the tag of responsible drinking and scaring the guts out of people when it comes to protein supplements.
The Anabolic Androgenic Steroid angle:
Most athletes who take supplements also use anabolic-androgenic steroids. Anabolic-androgenic steroids are banned in most sports and are associated with a social stigma. No athlete would want anyone to know that they are using steroids. It's an open secret of the sports industry. As a result, many athletes abuse steroids without understanding what they are putting into their bodies for performance gains. It's like playing with fire. Since people do not know that athletes are on steroids and see that they have tons of supplements, they associate all side effects with supplements rather than steroids.
Anabolic-androgenic steroids are scheduled H drugs. All scheduled H drugs have side effects. Yes, they are illegal but, do we know that alcohol and tobacco, which are readily available and accessible to anyone, are the most prominent killers. Both are entirely legal in most parts of the world. Smoking and drinking are steadily gaining social sanction. Unfortunately, the same is not valid with regards to supplements.
Alcohol and tobacco continue to kill millions of people every day. Yet, there is no documented case where a person died from consuming a calculated dose of supplements.
Parents are comfortable with their children drinking alcohol. But, they become worried when their children consume those damn protein powders. We sure know at least a few parents who indulge in the consumption of alcohol with their kids. But, how many parents do we know who consume protein shakes with their kids? Probably none!
Supplements as We Know:
People have inherently become scared of the word supplements. Supplements are incredibly healthy and productive when consumed in the correct quantity.
Supplements are necessary when we can’t obtain good quality or enough micronutrients or macronutrients from our diet alone.
Horlicks, Complan, Boost, Cerelac, etc., are supplements we all have comfortably consumed in the past without thinking twice. Of course, Chyawanprash is also a supplement. Our mother always wanted us to be healthy and fit, so she ensured that we consumed a glass of Complan before going to bed or leaving for school.
Our lifestyle is changing at a fast pace. As a result, the first-class protein in our diet is steadily diminishing, and carbohydrates and sugar are replacing it. Hence, our reliance on supplements is increasing by the day.
Some supplements may help lift heavier, run faster or recover quicker. Others may help increase mental focus, enhance sleep or delay lactic acid onset.
The Natural Supplement Vs. Artificial Supplement Theory:
Not everything we find in nature is always good for us. Snake venom is entirely natural. There are poisonous mushrooms, and there are non-poisonous mushrooms. There are toxic berries and non-toxic berries. We should take an informed decision with our knowledge and common sense before making a decision. Being derived artificially doesn't mean it is bad for us. Most people believe that anything derived naturally is always good for their health; this may not always be true.
We have been using artificially derived foods for a long time. For example, cooked food is human-made; honey is extracted using a human-made process; grains are human-made (humans cultivate grains). We consume and interact with human-made things all the time, everywhere, throughout our lives. It makes our life easier and more comfortable.
Supplements are meant to supplement our diet and not replace it.
We should have supplements when we can’t obtain good quality or enough micronutrients or macronutrients from our diet alone.
There is no evidence of side effects of supplements when consumed in recommended dosages. Choosing the right supplement and calculating the right dosage is the key.
There are various classes and levels of supplements depending on what we have to achieve and our budget.
It is highly unethical to associate the side effects of anabolic-androgenic steroids with supplements.
Supplements are not medicines. Even if they come in tablet, capsule or powder forms, supplements are very different from medications.
We have been using supplements in one form or the other since the time we were born.
Not everything derived from nature, including food, is beneficial for our health.
Not everything obtained artificially or from a human-made process, including food, is dangerous.
We hope the article helped understand if Supplements are Necessary.