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That supplement may not always help you Straits Times Graphics

That supplement may not always help you

10 May
Off-the-shelf health supplements can plug nutritional holes for some, but experts advise caution

Most healthy people do not need supplements, although many turn to them as a quick fix for poor eating habits.

Published in Straight Times, Singapore: Feb 6, 2018, 5:00 am SGT

This is not necessarily a bad thing, say the experts. Even so, they warn that frequent pill-popping can have negative side effects.

These include kidney or liver problems, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Despite that, supplements are flying off the shelves more than before.

Market research firm Euromonitor said in a November report that Singaporeans are spending more on vitamins and health supplements.

Consumers here forked out US$374.4 million (S$494 million) on these products last year, it found. This was US$30 million more than what was spent in 2012.

Popular products include probiotics, fish oil, glucosamine for joints, and co-enzyme Q10, which is said to help lower one's cholesterol levels.

The firm attributed this trend to Singaporeans' busy urban lifestyles, which can leave little room for regular exercise and a balanced diet.

"Many Singaporeans do not have time to stay physically active, and often indulge in meals that are unbalanced in terms of nutrition," said Ms Yvonne Wong, a research analyst at Euromonitor International.

"This therefore spurs them to purchase vitamins and dietary supplements to obtain the necessary nutrients."`

"Patients have to be aware that very few natural supplements have been vigorously studied in clinical trials, and that evidence for the use of natural supplements is not as robust compared to prescription medicines."

The habit of eating out frequently is also another issue. Six in 10 Singaporeans eat out at least four times a week, according to the 2010 National Nutrition Survey.

But such foods tend to be less nutritious.

"Hawker meals tend to be high in refined carbohydrates and low in vegetables," said Ms Mah Wai Yee, a principal dietitian at Farrer Park Hospital. "We also tend not to have fruits with our meals."

Publish by Straits Times, Feb 6, 2018

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