Over-dependence on supplements not a good idea, say doctors in UAE


Supplements like vitamins C and D, and zinc, are being widely used by the people to enhance their immune system.

By Nandini Sircar

Published: Sun 24 Jan 2021, 12:43 AM

Last updated: Sun 24 Jan 2021, 6:48 AM

Many UAE residents are trying to boost their immunity system, which has been pushed to the limits because of the Covid-19 outbreak, by taking supplements during these winter months.

Supplements like vitamins C and D, and zinc, are being widely used by the people to enhance their immune system.

There is some axiomatic truth that vitamins can boost immunity, but doctors maintain that there isn’t enough empirical evidence yet to show how dietary supplements can be used to correct imbalances.

It has been found that people who rarely take ill and those who frequently fall sick has got to do with their habits rather than their immunity.

Simple daily activities like sanitising hands, exercising regularly, consuming a balanced diet, managing stress and getting vaccinated against flu and other diseases stimulates the immune system to protect against illness.

Dr Pavithra V Reddy, a specialist of internal medicine at Prime Medical Centre in Motor City Branch, Dubai, said: “Fear is one of the most powerful emotions, which drives human action. In these Covid-induced uncertain times, people appear to stock up on many things such as masks, hand sanitisers and immunity-boosting supplements.”

She added: “Supplements such as vitamins C and D and zinc are found to be beneficial in improving immunity. However, there is no substantial research to support the direct correlation of these vitamins on prevention and management of diseases. But maintaining a healthy balanced diet and exercises is key to boost immunity.”

Doctors insisted that increasing the intake of immune-boosting natural nutrients and dietary factors is a more prudent strategy for optimising a person’s immune health.

Sakina Mustansir, a dietician at Prime Hospital, Dubai, pointed out: “Whole foods are recommended over supplements but where diet is lacking, supplements help bridge or fill the gap. The kind of supplements one selects is important. Most of the products, which are available in the markets, are synthetic, whose absorption and bioavailability is not well-defined.”

She added: “A diverse nutrient dense diet is important for a person’s daily intake. Natural whole food supplements are always a better choice, as they’re more bioavailable and recognisable to the human body.”

Dr Sunil Vyas, a pulmonologist at Aster Hospital, Al Qusais, Dubai, said: “Immunity boosters and having good immunity will definitely help in tackling infection, but only bacterial or viral infection. Immunity boosters are always an added benefit, but getting the needed nutrients through a healthy lifestyle amid the Covid-19 pandemic is highly recommended.”

Doctors also sounded a word of caution. They maintained overdoing anything has its own negative impact and the same holds true for immunity boosting pills.

Dr Jibi Thankam Thomas, a general medicine practitioner at Aster Clinic in Muhaisnah, Dubai, said: “Taking additional immunity boosting measures creates a mental belief that we’re secure and that, in turn, helps us. However, people may go overboard with lots of unverified information circulating on social media. This, in turn, puts them at grave risk. It’s important to be informed than experiment with one’s health. Verifying facts with medical practitioners and spreading awareness about them is critical in a bid to overcome any health hazards.”


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