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Many of us are trying to replace healthy, balanced diet of the grocery store variety with supplements from the pharmacy menu. Sometimes this is good, but not always. Maybe it is because some supplements (even if not all of them!) available in a pharmacy are just good advertisement and nothing more, or at least – nothing that our organisms would really need.

Supplement is not medicine

Every medicament in Poland, before its registration and addition to the list of authorized medicinal products must be examined very carefully. During that process many factors like composition, efficacy, bioavailability (rate and extent of active substance absorption), and many others are evaluated. All medicinal products are subject to strict control of both Main Pharmaceutical Inspector and the Drug and Biocides Registration Office.

Diet supplements, although sold in pharmacies (which gives them the appearance of being just perfect to treat vitamins and minerals deficiency, reduce effects of stress, improve hair condition, reduce cholesterol or even fight cellulite or cold hands…) are not medicine, and it is only Sanitary Inspection who controls them. These institutions will check the sanitary conditions in a supplement factory, but they do not verify the effectiveness of the product. The only party supervising (or not) the supplement’s quality and its accordance with information given in packaging and advertisement is the producer. The producer, who wants to make profit.

Pay attention

So what is the reason for Maglek B6, Vigor and Valerin Forte to be medicines sold without prescription, and for Magical, Centrum, or Valerin Mite to be supplements? Even more surprising: we can usually find the same composition data on the packages of both of these groups of products. What they might differ in is the percentage of active substance used. With a small amount of medicine they become supplements.

However, we buy supplements. Why? Firstly, they are advertised more often. Secondly, the reason why we buy them, instead of medicine, is that we believe that a healthy person does not need medicine. It serves us well to know that, but we should also recognize that a healthy man does not need supplements either. It is even written on their package, that they cannot be used as replacement for a healthy diet. Instead of this, we should know that our organisms are far better off with vitamins and minerals from natural sources, from food rather than from pills.

If you really need to

Sadly, the increasing pace of life, junk food filled with salt and sugar, lack of meat, fish or fresh fruit and vegetables is leading us to vitamins and minerals deficiencies. In this situation it is worth trying appropriate diet supplements. They can help in many cases, they exhibit their usefulness during autumn and winter, while doing sports or during menopause. Just remember, they should not be used for a very long time. If the problem exists too long, and supplements do not help we should search for the actual reason.

Samanta Makurat

Chemistry student at the University of Gdańsk, fascinated with molecular modeling. Nature enthusiast.


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