Mr Babatunde Ajobo, a Dietician says that the lack or excess of vitamins can be detrimental to human health.
Ajobo, who is attached to the Centre for Geriatrics, University College Hospital (UCH) Ibadan, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Ibadan.
According to him, one can develop hypervitaminosis when one vitamin is taken in excess, or when you have inadequate quantity of it in the body.
The dietician advised that people should follow the food pyramid guide to be able to obtain all necessary vitamins needed to maintain good health.
According to him, the food pyramid guide is to ensure that the necessary vitamins in the diets taken are sufficient to maintain a healthy living.
“However, some people resort to taking vitamin supplements because they say food no longer give them the right vitamins needed.
“An excess of one vitamin and mineral can negatively affect the absorption of other vitamins and minerals.
“If vitamins supplements are thought to be necessary, it is essential that a physician or registered dietician be consulted first.
“Looking back to history around 460 BC, Hippocrates recognised the essential relationship between food and health. This presupposes that if you take necessary diets, they should be able to provide you the adequate amount of vitamins and minerals that your body requires daily,” he said.
Ajobo said the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defined nutrition supplement as “products which are not pharmaceutical drugs.”
He said the long term health benefits of multivitamins were inconclusive.
According to him, diets that are high in fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of diabetes, cancer and heart disease, and a host of other medical conditions.
“It is hypothesised that high concentration of antioxidants and fibres reduce inflammation and protect against chronic diseases.
“So, the natural progression from this is the belief that supplementing with isolated forms of antioxidants and nutrients found in fruits and vegetables would confer the same benefits.
“Supplementation of a nutrient confers health benefits if the person is deficient in that nutrient. If you do not have a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables, multivitamins may be beneficial as nutritional insurance.''
“A whole foods powder supplement is recommended if you are taking supplements. And if you don’t want to drink a powdered supplement, consider a true whole foods multivitamin supplement,” Ajobo said.
The dietician also recommended that eating as much as 10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily is ideal, even though it may be very challenging.
He said the FDA had put measures in place to regulate the taking of multivitamins and mineral supplements to avoid abuse or wrong use and testing.
The FDA established Current Good Manufacturing Practice Regulations (CGMPR) requiring that vitamin manufacturers evaluate their products by testing purity, strength, and composition.
This is because vitamins are classified by FDA as general food products under the category of dietary supplements, and no testing is required before the manufacturer brings a product’s vitamin to the market.
“The primary safety concern with vitamin is the toxicity from over-ingestion, leading to increased risk of illness.
“For example, ingesting too much zinc interferes with copper and iron absorption. Since people do not need to consult a doctor before ingesting vitamins, you can potentially take vitamins that interact with one another in ways that can hurt, rather than help your health. Additionally, as with any supplement, there is a risk of impurities in the product, which can have severe consequences on the body,” he said.
The dietician called for more focus on eating proper diets as a source of vitamins and minerals, adding that they should never be overused.
Ajobo advised that if vitamin supplements were being considered, it was essential that a medical professional or dietician be consulted first.
He said that supplements could not replace food, neither could it replace medicine.