Something that I have found interesting, even fascinating since I have been in the Philippines, is the way people are encouraged to take vitamin supplements all of the time. Nearly all of my Filipino friends, especially the younger ones in their 20′s, all ask me, are you taking your vitamins, or they will tell me that they must take their vitamins, for general wellbeing and for preventing the oncoming of all kinds of illnesses.
When my friends have been to the Doctor due to illness, if they require a prescription, that prescription is ALWAYS accompanied by vitamins.
On the television, on the radio, in magazines and shop windows and on billboard posters, vitamins are advertised everywhere. They will prevent sickness and illness and will help keep you strong and full of vitality.
I find this attitude towards vitamin and mineral supplements interesting and to be honest a little worrying too. Indeed, in the West, such things are advertised and encouraged to a degree, but some people here in the Philippines seem to have absolute blind faith in these products, as though they are some kind of miracle preventative or cure.
I know a qualified nurse for more than 20 years and I have learnt about nutrition, growth and development, illness and disease prevention and all about vitamins and minerals. Now, the advertisers and some of the less ethical doctors will not like me saying this, but this belief surrounding vitamin and mineral supplements is somewhat a false one. People are being misled into purchasing so many of these products when they really don’t need them.
Now of course, I understand the Western diet is totally different from here in Asia, I know to take into consideration the economic climate, ability or difficulty for people to purchase a wide variety of healthy foods, availability of products etc etc. But the truth is the people who really do need a vitamin supplement, are the ones who probably cannot afford to buy it.
While from time to time, we may lack in some of the trace elements and minerals that the “experts” say we need to maintain good health, in general, if a human being is able to consume some meat, fish, fruit, vegetables and fibre, they really are not going to go wrong. For those who have a really poor diet, and do genuinely have a lacking of a vitamin in their body, or they have some kind of medical condition or illness requiring supplements, then they will for sure be displaying symptoms that will indicate this. If there is nothing seriously wrong with an individual, then a diet of regular fish, meat, fruit, veg and fibre and of course water will certainly keep you alive and healthy.
You will never be able to effectively replace the vitamins and minerals you get from fresh fruit and vegetables by taking a tablet. Some have traces of natural product “extract” in their powder or tablet, but this is absolutely minimal and the majority of what you are ingesting is a chemical reproduction.
The human body cannot store vitamin c, so if you take more than the daily recommended amount, you will simply excrete the rest out of your body anyway.
Many vitamin and mineral supplements have an impact on your internal organs too, such as your liver and kidneys, causing them to work over time, therefore, if you are required to take something, it should be taken alternative months, one month on, one month off. You could be causing more damage than good if you don’t.
I have tried to explain these facts to many of my friends, but to be honest I don’t think I have got through to them, I can see it in their eyes, a fear almost, that if they don’t take their vitamins, they will fall foul of sickness and disease. They seem to be indoctrinated and I do blame the advertising industry, and to some point the medical profession too. These doctors who are prescribing all these vitamin supplements to the innocent and naive are not doing their patients a good service at all. Unfortunately, as in the West too, medicine and vitamins are big money and that is when ethical behaviour tends to go out of the window.
I just hope some people will read this, and maybe take just a little bit of it away with them, even if it just makes them think twice about taking those tablets to prevent flu and fever or any other ache or pain that they think may be inflicted upon them.
If you are able to afford a sensible diet that consists of the main food groups, you drink plenty of water, take some regular exercise and are able to maintain a sensible sleep pattern then you should be ok.
Try to think of your health and don’t line the pockets of the unscrupulous advertisers who really don’t care what you do to yourself.
Jeff Harvie is an Australian Registered Migration Agent (MARN 0959797) who has given up the quiet life in Australia a few years back for one more adventurous with his Filipina wife and kids in Manila, Philippines. He runs Down Under Visa, which specialises in Australian partner visas for those Aussie men who fall madly in love with the local girls and want to bring them to Australia.