India’s growing obsession with Dietary Supplements

The pandemic has taught a lot of us about the importance of immunity power and a good health which has been very helpful for many of us but has also given rise to many unnecessary ways of maintaining a proper health. One must ensure that they educate themselves about a particular thing before they venture towards it or start practicing it.

Samraggi Roy/ Guest Author

Recently, due to the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020, a new reason for the usage of Dietary Supplements has emerged. In media, more and more advertisements of dietary supplements are being displayed, that are thought to help in the treatment and prevention of COVID-19. Moreover, the increase in focus on holistic well being and strengthening the immunity has brought about some significant changes in consumers’ dietary choices. According to a BCG COVID-19 consumer sentiment survey, the demand for nutritional supplements has increased by over 28% in the post-COVID-19 era. At Amway India, the nutrition category reported a 13% growth contributing to over 60% of the company’s total revenues in 2020. This current trend displays the demand for vitamins and dietary supplements have changed the consumer’s perspective towards the consumption of these dietary supplements.

 What are Dietary Supplements?

The dietary supplements contain one or more dietary compounds as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, or other substances with a nutritional or physiological effect. The National Programme for Prophylaxis (1970) was one of the first supplementation programmes in India was implemented to fight against Blindness in Children due to Vitamin A Deficiency, which paved the way for the introduction of dietary supplements in India’s public health policies. The purpose of the usage of these dietary supplements was to replace the micronutrient levels of the individual’s body as soon as possible. However an increase in the amounts of consumption of these dietary supplements, in spite of not suffering from any micronutrient deficiencies can lead to increase in levels of toxicity in the person’s body.

One must keep in mind that these supplements should not replace complete meals, which are essential to nurturing the body. A new study has found that taking zinc and vitamin C supplements won’t do any good in treating Covid-19. The supplements have been found to be ineffective in decreasing the severity of Covid-19 infection or the duration of it. Researchers at Cleveland Clinic in the US have found that although zinc is known to be important for immune function it remains ineffective in treating Covid-19 cases. Similar were the results for vitamin C supplements, but failed to do anything for Covid-19 patients.

The Best Way is to keep it Natural and Organic !

The best way to boost our immunity is by consuming healthy cooked meals from vegetables, rich in Vitamin A like carrots, pumpkin, eggs; Vitamin E rich foods like tomatoes, lemons, broccoli, Vitamin B rich foods like dark green leafy vegetables, rice, green lentils and nuts like almonds to our diet; Vitamin E rich foods like raw seeds, fish, mustard greens, spinach, turnip greens, kale, and plant oils to our diets. Antioxidants A, C, E present in fruits like papaya, Mangoes, Oranges and other citrus fruits can be consumed in the raw form, for more fibre intake. Along with micro-nutrient intake, we need to also consume proteins, fats and our carbohydrates in adequate proportions.

Moreover, physical exercise is also very important when it comes to our regular well being and immunity building. The World Health Organization in their official website have explicitly emphasized on the need and importance of physical activity for one’s physical as well as mental well being.

Moreover, nothing can be better than a healthy balanced diet and regular exercise that can help our body fight against any infection or disease.

(Author is a 2nd year student of Food Science and Nutrition Management from J.D Birla Institute, Kolkata)

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