Food Supplements: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

I remember a very revealing article by L’Express (French Weekly Magazine) on food supplements. It only confirmed some of my worries and I decided it might be a good idea to impart what I have come to know.
Now, I realize I’m in for a lot of flak from interested parties, but frankly speaking I don’t care a fig. This is mega business here in Japan and probably more in the US and Europe, and so what?
It certainly promises me fun when I will field some queries/complaints! LOL

Some food supplements are definitely useful with some precautions and I call them “The Good”.
Others have never been categorically proven as beneficial to humans and are just a drain on resources and probably the best business of them all. Not dangerous but nearly useless. I call them “The Bad”.
The last category includes some food supplements that are downright dangerous and you are in for some surprises. They merit the name of “The Ugly”!

And a single piece of advice before we embark on the boat of discord: Food supplements shouldn’t be ingested as a “cocktail” but one at a time, and one at a day if feasible. That is unless you want some digestive disorders!

THE GOOD

VITAMINS D

Vitamins D are vital for the health of bones (calcium regulation). A lack of them will result in rachitism in kids and osteoposis in old people.
They also influence on the immune defenses of the human body.
A regular exposure to sun will help the skin to synthethize it, even with only the hands and face exposed to the sun.
People who live a lot outdoors, eat red-fleshed fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardine, herring, bonito or marlin), dairy products or eggs do not need such a food supplement.
But vegetarians and vegans do need them.

OMEGA 3

These are contained in the fat acids called “essential acids” because vital to human life although the human organism is unable to synthesize them.
They are found in red-fleshed fish, but also in rapeseed plants, walnuts and whole wheat.
They are extremely beneficial to the heart, and brain articulations.
200 mg a day or 1.5 g a week should be enough. Fish oil tablets usually contain 100 to 400 mg. But compared to 1~2 g provided by 100g of mackerel, herring or even tinned sardine, they just don’t compete! 2~3 g of cod oil hold the same!
Vegetarians and vegans, do eat walnuts and other grains!

IRON

A lack of iron entails fatigue and repeptitive infections.
It can spell for a high risk of anemia.
Women with high flow periods are at a risk as well as vegetarians/vegans, pregnant women and teenage girls.
Endurance sportsmen/women run the same risk.
You need a prescription for such supplement as an excess will result into intoxication.
Now Indian vegetarians have found the solution in dry grains such as lentils and dhal.
Fish, shellfish, some dry vegetables and green vegetables contain iron.
Iron supplement are also offered against fatigue, palpitations, as well as to improve children immune defenses and intellectual performances.

GINSENG

Originally from Asia, America and Siberia, this root is proposed to prevent cancer and treat diabetes.
As for improving sport performances, it is practically insignificant unless you you inject it into the body at very high doses (doping?).
On the other hand it does seem to protect against cancer, especially ovary and pancreas as well as glycemia.

————————————–

THE BAD

CARNITINE

Carnitine is an idispensisble molecule for sportsmen and obese people.
Producers aver that their carnitine supplements would augment usage of lipids with the dual benefit of improved stamina and loss of weight.
Bad luck: neither has been proved.
Even the organism of strict vegetarians produces enough of it!
As for prevention of Alzheimer syndrome and cardiovascular problems, that’s chalatans’ study!

GUARANA

Originally from Amazonia, it is offered to combat fatigue and improve sports performance.
Not better than coffeee! Actually 200 g of guarana contains 80 g of caffeine. If you already drink a lot of tea or coffee it can be only negative on your system: insomnia, palpitations, etc.
Its benefits have never been proven!

CURCUMA

One of the spices found in curry powder mixes.
Offered to prevent Alzheimer syndrome or cancer, to treat hepapatitis C, hypercholesterolemia and to improve memory.
According to producers, it is efficient against Alzheimer syndrome and cancer tumors and others.
As far as cancer is concerend, the potential seems interesting. As for the rest, no exhaustive research has been conducted!

—————————-

THE UGLY

SPIRULINA

This blue algae found in rivers and lakes is cultivated for its proteins (70% of the dried extract).
It is rich in iron and zinc, elements often needed by vegetarians.
Also contains Vitamin B.
On the other it is poor in useful fats.
Anti-ageing, slimming and anti-cholesterol properties are the talk of charlatans. Full stop.
Word is that it will entail a loss of Vitamin B12 for vegetarians. Spirulina does contain some in great quantity, but it is inactive in the human system. Worse it is noxiou as it prevents the assimilation of human friendly Vitamin B12, which is present in the human system!

SELENIUM

Present in meat, fish, eggs and cereals.
It is offered to cure anti-aging and prevent cancer and heart diseases.
Selenium is indispensible in small quantities. to paly a positive role against oxydizing stress.
Actually a well balanced diet will easily replace it!
If you ingest more than 900 micrograms (yes, you read well!), nails will break, hair will split and skin will be weakened with consequent neurological alterations.
In animals it has been proven as cancerigenous!

BETA CAROTENE

Present in oranges, carrots and green vegetables.
Offered to cure anti ageing and to prepare the skin against sun exposure.
Once absorbed it becomes a beneficient Vitamin A.
Beta carotene contained in natural food is beneficient, but ineffective or even dangerous in artificial form, especially in supplements which contain far too much.
It is particularly dangerous for smokers who have a better chance to die from lung cancer when absorbing such supplements!
Just keep to the carrots and green vegetables!

RECOMMENDED RELATED WEBSITES

So Good Sushi Restaurant in Nice France
Navigating Nagoya by Paige, Shop with Intent by Debbie, BULA KANA in Fiji, Kraemer’s Culinary blog by Frank Kraemer in New York,Tokyo Food File by Robbie Swinnerton, Green Tea Club by Satoshi Nihonyanagi in Shizuoka!, Mind Some by Tina in Taiwan, Le Manger by Camille Oger (French), The Indian Tourist, Masala Herb by Helene Dsouza in Goa, India, Mummy I Can Cook! by Shu Han in London, Pie
rre.Cuisine
, Francescannotwrite, My White Kitchen, Foodhoe, Chucks Eats, Things that Fizz & Stuff, Five Euro Food by Charles,Red Shallot Kitchen by Priscilla,With a Glass, Nami | Just One Cookbook, Peach Farm Studio, Clumsyfingers by Xethia, PepperBento, Hapabento, Kitchen Cow, Lunch In A Box, Susan at Arkonlite, Vegan Lunch Box; Tokyo Tom Baker, Daily Food Porn/Osaka, Only Nature Food Porn, Happy Little Bento, J-Mama’s Kitchen, Cook, Eat, Play, Repeat, Bento Lunch Blog (German), Adventures In Bento, Anna The Red’s Bento Factory, Ohayo Bento

Must-see tasting websites:

-Sake: Ichi For The Michi by Rebekah Wilson-Lye in Tokyo, Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen, Warren Bobrow, Cellar Tours, Ancient Fire Wines Blog
-Beer: Another Pint, Please!, Beering In Good Mind: All about Craft Beer in Kansai by Nevitt Reagan!
ABRACADABREW, Magical Craftbeer from Japan
-Whisky: Nonjatta: All about whisky in Japan by Stefan Van Eycken
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery

Non gastronomy must-see sites by Shizuoka Residents

HIGHOCTANE/HAIOKU by Nick Itoh in Shizuoka City

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