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