Food supplements are not always useful: how do you take it wisely?

According to Witkamp, ​​people who do need it often use nothing. Also because they are not always aware of shortages. According to the Nutrition Center, people with good health and a healthy diet do not need to take supplements in principle. It is often not that simple, says Witkamp. “Many people don’t get enough fruit and vegetables every day, even if they eat reasonably healthy. A multivitamin or mineral preparation ensures that you at least get everything you need.”

There is therefore no harm in taking a close look at your own diet. For example, Witkamp suspects that many people eat little fish. “I am therefore not against taking omega 3 fish oil for the health of the heart and blood vessels. You don’t easily take too much of it, and with regard to sustainability, a capsule is perhaps even better than fish itself. However, you should not have too high expectations. With most supplements it remains difficult to demonstrate whether you benefit from them.”

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Do you want to take supplements? Then start with a preparation that contains all the necessary vitamins and preferably also minerals, says Witkamp. “Then you know for sure that you are getting enough, and that can give you a reassuring feeling.” Pay attention to how much is in a pill, advises the professor. “There are products on the market that contain six to seven times the recommended daily amount. Then you can get various problems. At the same time, you don’t have to be too moralistic. If you feel good about it and stay close to the recommended amount, it’s not so bad.”

If you take too much magnesium, at most you will have problems with your intestines. Annoying, but not harmful. Unfortunately, this does not apply to all supplements. For example, an overdose of vitamin A can damage the liver, previously discovered. “You shouldn’t take vitamin A when you’re pregnant either,” adds Witkamp. “A few years ago there were preparations on the market that contained far too much vitamin B6. That can cause neurological problems. As a result, skater Sven Kramer suffered from stinging feet and coordination problems.”

Witkamp in any case recommends avoiding the internet as much as possible. “The NVWA (Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority, ed.) warns against herbal preparations from the internet that supposedly only consist of herbs, but also appear to contain active substances.” For example, there are ‘potency-enhancing herbs’ available online that simply contain Viagra. “If these are sold from abroad, there is little control over that.”


Witkamp also points out the health risks of combining herbal preparations and medicines. “Some herbs have an effect on the liver or the kidneys,” he explains. “As a result, your body can break down medicines faster, or less quickly.” It may therefore be wise to inform your doctor about any use.

Witkamp understands that people take supplements, and emphasizes that extra vitamins and minerals can be useful. He does think that we should ask ourselves more often why we are doing this. “For example, are you under a lot of stress or do you eat too little fruit? Supplements are sometimes ‘excuses’; if you take a pill after a bad weekend just to be sure. It may sound corny, but the most important thing is your lifestyle. Make sure you eat healthy, sleep well, exercise enough and monitor your stress level. In the end, you do yourself the greatest favor with that.”

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