The Daily Dozen

Fit­ness isn’t a mat­ter of pop­ping a few quick pills. While for­ti­fy­ing your diet is a good idea, health sup­ple­ments should never act as sub­sti­tutes for the real deal.


Ever won­dered what came of those tiny, bril­liant yel­low pills that we were made to swal­low be­fore ev­ery exam? I’ll never ac­tu­ally know if they did make me any smarter or mem­o­rise the square root of 39 any bet­ter. But it seemed like a good idea at the time, one, be­cause ev­ery­one else was do­ing it, and sec­ond, be­cause if cod liver oil did im­prove brain power, then I’d just found way to beat ge­net­ics and up­bring­ing, the two hard­est things to al­ter, no mat­ter how much you try.

Health sup­ple­ments are mar­keted as a pass­port to a bet­ter life, and what bet­ter place for their use to mul­ti­ply than in a boom­ing, as­pi­ra­tional econ­omy. The need for cus­tom made lives and med­i­cal in­no­va­tion has pushed us to­wards find­ing a cure for ev­ery­thing— for un­timely hunger, post­de­liv­ery flab, for build­ing up on en­ergy re­serves and even in­creas­ing one’s sex drive. There isn’t any­thing that can’t be con­trolled, stemmed or de­layed now. Ac­cord­ing to in­dus­try es­ti­mates in 2011, the In­dian nu­traceu­ti­cal mar­ket was val­ued at USD 1400 mil­lion, with a po­ten­tial to grow to USD 2 bil­lion by 2016. A com­bi­na­tion of rapid ur­ban­i­sa­tion, in- creas­ing dis­pos­able in­comes and early aware­ness about dis­eases have made sup­ple­ments like pro­bi­otics, fish oils and en­er­gis­ers ex­tremely pop­u­lar. Of course, it also helps that these pills and pow­ders are avail­able over- the- counter and there isn’t any sort of reg­u­la­tion of their easy dis­burse­ment. So be­fore you ac­ces­sorise your medicine cab­i­net with the lat­est med­i­cal quick fix, get the com­plete low­down on health sup­ple­ments— their us­age, dosage and ben­e­fits— and how not to over­dose on the de­signer pill life.

Asses The Need

Sup­ple­ments, like fash­ion fads, change as life­styles evolve. If five years ago, all you needed to do was look younger, now, not only do you need that, but also to stay fit, build mus­cle tone, watch out for os­teo­poro­sis and keep your en­ergy lev­els up till the chil­dren fi­nally fall asleep. Health sup­ple­ments make life just that much eas­ier, giv­ing you that ex­tra kick you would’ve had, if you had the time to eat a whole­some break­fast. Think of it though, as sub­sti­tut­ing choco­late fudge for low fat pud­ding. It’s still good, and does the job of

Above the age of 50, when most women ex­pe­ri­ence menopause and es­tro­gen lev­els re­cede, the amount of cal­cium re­quired is al­most 800 to 1000 mg in a day. “While sup­ple­ments are a good way to stock up, try in­cor­po­rat­ing dairy prod­ucts as part of your diet, so that your de­pen­dence on ar­ti­fi­cial sources can be re­duced,” says Tickoo. Also, when shop­ping for cal­cium sup­ple­ments, make sure to look for those that are for­ti­fied with Vi­ta­min D. Omega 3: This is when you’ll re­con­sider turn­ing ve­gan. With women be­com­ing as sus­cep­ti­ble to heart at­tacks as men, a reg­u­lar dose of Omega 3 fatty acids can lower the risk of heart dis­ease, and re­sult in health­ier joints and re­duced in­flam­ma­tion. Omega 3 fatty acids are com­monly found in fish oil. If you’re veg­e­tar­ian, then the best source would be tak­ing one Omega 3 cap­sule ev­ery­day. Co- enzyme Q10: An­other must for veg­e­tar­i­ans, this nu­tri­ent acts as a pow­er­ful anti- ox­i­dant and keeps your heart healthy. Sol­u­ble in fat, women who can­not sup­ple­ment their diet with meat and fish must take this sup­ple­ment to pre­vent car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease and can­cer. On a daily ba­sis, you need atleast 30 to 100mg— in­case you take more than that, split it into two doses so that it’s ab­sorbed bet­ter by your sys­tem. COQ10 is re­quired for ba­sic cell func­tion.

An­a­lyse This

While sup­ple­ments may for­tify your diet and keep you healthy, if taken in the wrong doses, they could tax your sys­tem. An ex­cess of fat sol­u­ble vi­ta­mins like A, D, E and K can get eas­ily stocked in the body to the point of reach­ing toxic lev­els. Also, read la­bels care­fully to en­sure that you are not al­ler­gic to any of the in­gre­di­ents like wheat, corn, eggs or gelatin in the sup­ple­ment. Be wary of pro­tein shakes and re­vi­talis­ers which pre­tend to be mul­ti­vi­ta­mins but are ac­tu­ally a cock­tail of vi­ta­mins, min­er­als, an­tiox­i­dants that if mixed in wrong, un­pre­scribed doses can cause an ad­verse re­ac­tion in the body. When it comes to the four es­sen­tial sup­ple­ments men­tioned, make sure you run your choice by your doc­tor to en­sure you’re tak­ing the cor­rect type and dosage.

Your first line of de­fense should al­ways be a healthy diet and life­style. If it’s fa­tigue you’re try­ing to con­quer, eat smaller meals to kick- start your me­tab­o­lism. If it’s clearer skin you want, try nat­u­ral anti- ox­i­dants like blue­ber­ries and green tea. To aid di­ges­tion, try flaxseed with your morn­ing ce­real. If it’s about build­ing mus­cle tone, in­crease the time you spend on weight train­ing. Ex­plore newer meth­ods to chan­nel your en­ergy lev­els through yoga or tai chi and en­joy the nat­u­ral way of stay­ing fit.

Graph­ics by PUSHVINDER KAUR/ www. in­di­a­to­day­im­ages. com

8.00 am

Don’t have a lazy start. Stretch, walk, swim and have a calo­rie- rich break­fast.

1.30 pm

A pro­tein shake is not lunch. Oat­meal cook­ies are a much health­ier al­ter­na­tive. Don’t for­get to break up hours of in­ac­tiv­ity with some sim­ple stretch­ing ex­er­cises at work.


Has po­tent an­tibac­te­rial and an­ti­in­flam­ma­tory qual­i­ties. Adds colour too.


Not just a mouth fresh­ner, mint aids di­ges­tion and clears con­gested nose and throat


A pow­er­ful rem­edy for ev­ery­thing from com­mon cold to can­cer. Take with tea.


Apart from be­ing an anti- ox­i­dant, a nut­meg paste can rid you of black­heads and dead skin


Keeps you di­ges­tive sys­tem in or­der and is a good stim­u­lant. Also makes for great dessert top­ping.

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