Q and A: What are supplements and why do you need them?
MANILA, Philippines – Vitamins and minerals are essential for humans to get through daily activities – the daily commute, grueling long-hour work shifts, and even going out with friends.
But here's the thing: are supplements worth the investment?
Rappler spoke to Dr Benedict Francis Valdecañas, who specializes in Sports & Regenerative Medicine, during the launch of Klean Athlete supplements to shed light on misconceptions and presumptions about supplements.
Why do we need supplements?
Valdecañas: The reason for that misconception is that we were used to saying that taking too much vitamins is just expensive urine. That’s not true anymore. Your body heals itself. That’s the basic premise. It cannot heal itself if it does not have everything that it needs. Vitamins are actually co-factors or your cell goes through the same processes everyday and these processes are powered by vitamins, so if you don’t have the vitamins in your body, these processes won’t.
But don't you get your vitamins and minerals from food?
Valdecañas: We always say: "Just eat a well-balanced diet" [but] who knows what a well-balanced diet is? It differs from person-to-person, from body-to-body. Now, if you’re not an athlete, you still undergo wear and tear. That’s a daily thing to the body – that’s why we age, that’s why we degenerate – but the body has the capacity to regenerate, so vitamins provide everything it needs. And yes, you don’t get everything from the food that you eat.
How do I know what supplements to take?
Valdecañas: It’s always best to have yourself tested. It’s not expensive to have yourself tested with these supplements. If you go to the right doctor, you can have a normal blood test like a complete blood count and just by looking at the values, he can tell you what you’re lacking and what you’re missing out on.
When do I know that I'm taking too many supplements?
Valdecañas: It’s actually very difficult to overdo supplements because your body needs a lot and we’re hardly giving it what it needs – that’s why people age faster now, people get all these ailments and illnesses. Not only because of the wrong things we eat, but it’s also because we’re not helping our body along in repairing itself from all these bad foods.
My advice to a person taking supplements is to listen to your body. If you think you’re not reacting well to a certain supplement, then change. Don’t stop taking supplements altogether.
Are there age restrictions for supplements?
Valdecañas: Supplements are what your body actually needs from the moment you’re born to when you hit the bucket. I don’t believe in the age restrictions of supplements.
When do I take supplements?
Valdecañas: Specific vitamins have specific times in the day where you should take it. For example, Vitamin B is best taken in the morning because it’s a stimulant. Taking it in the evening will make you lose sleep or it will make it difficult for you to get good quality sleep, so Vitamin D and Vitamin C are best taken with food, so you have to time them with your meals. Well you still absorb a bit of it, but not maximizing it. So No.1, it’s a waste of resources and No.2, you’re taxing your body when it does not need a specific substance.
What kind of vitamins should I purchase?
Valdecañas: It’s best to take supplements which your body needs separately and you combine it yourself. In terms of brands, you have to take a look at their scientific backing – what we call in medicine as evidence-based. So if a brand has all these studies proving efficacy, you go for that brand. And you don’t have to choose the expensive vitamins. It does not mean that it’s expensive that it’s better.
If I'm an athlete, how effective are supplements in my performance?
Dr: It’s a new frontier becuase it addresses a particular athlete’s need. Not just having one product in the market and have a long line of this, make makes you personalize, you can actually plug and play depending on the need of the athlete. – Rappler.com