Healthy individuals need not take dietary supplements, say experts

Dieticians advise healthy individuals that they do not need to take any dietary supplements. — AFP file pic
Dieticians advise healthy individuals that they do not need to take any dietary supplements. — AFP file pic

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ALOR STAR, Dec 24 — It is not necessary for healthy individuals to take any dietary supplements, says the head of the Dietetics and Food Service Department at Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital, here.

Khairul Nizam Mat Nayan said healthy individuals should never take supplements for health care based on their own diagnosis without seeking advice from an expert first.

According to him, excessive intake of supplements is not necessarily harmful in the short term, but is feared to damage the internal organs in the long term.

“Examples of excessive fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, K will affect the liver. Although these vitamins are needed by the body, they are actually easily and sufficiently available from the natural foods consumed.

“If we take too much vitamin supplements, it will accumulate in the liver, which eventually will become toxins that affect the liver,” he said when met in his office at the hospital recently.

Khairul Nizam was commenting on the effects of dumping dietary supplements for health and beauty care through online sale, with the effectiveness of the products based solely on the testimonies of buyers simply saying the products were good without solid scientific evidence.

Bernama quoted a status on Facebook by consultant physician and nephrologist from Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Hospital in Temerloh, Dr Rafidah Abdullah who said: “Lying in the wards are many whose kidneys have been rapidly damaged because of various products. For chronic patients, please DO NOT TOUCH any product!”.

Sharing the same opinion, Khairul Nizam said excessive intake of supplements could place an additional strain or burden on one’s kidneys, thus causing damage to the organ.

“Normally, excessive consumption of water-soluble supplements such as vitamins C and B do not have any effect as they will be disposed of through the urine, but in the long run there will be side effects as it burdens the kidneys in processing these vitamins for disposal,” he said.

As such, he said, patients with kidney disease should never take any supplements sold in the market at will after being influenced by the testimonies of others, unless they were only taking the medicine from a hospital monitored by a physician.

“Do not easily believe the testimonies of others on the effectiveness of a product. For kidney patients, it is important to note the adverse effects of supplements, so as to avoid worsening their condition. The kidneys are already damaged, so consuming too much non-relevant products could further burden the kidneys.

The dietetic officer said the Health Ministry suggested healthy food intake through the ‘Malaysian Dietary Guidelines 2010’ which outlined 14 key messages with one of the messages emphasising taking a variety of foods according to the food pyramid.

Khairul Nizam said for healthy individuals, it was adequate to practise a balanced diet based on natural foods such as vegetables, fruits and fish to maintain good health.

“Dietary supplements should not take over the role and function of food diversity which is important for the human body because it does not supply the essential nutrients and components that are complete in natural foods.”

However, he said, there were certain groups who needed to take supplements with the monitoring of physicians such as pregnant women, senior citizens, children with growing problems and long-suffering patients.

“If the body really needs additional supplements, it is advisable to choose supplements that come from organic and natural ingredients with no added chemicals, other than halal.

“As long as the supplements do not exceed the dosage and follow our daily nutritional requirements, it is not a problem. On the contrary, if taken above the prescribed dosage, it is likely to cause toxicity in the body.

“So, be sure to consult a specialist before taking any supplements, and most importantly, make sure the supplements are approved by the Ministry of Health. Do not be too obsessed with a product of which we do not know the nutritional content,” he said. — Bernama

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