We’ve hit the age of pills. It’s far too common to believe that all of life’s problems can be solved with a quick swallow and a gulp of water. You can feel any way you want to, treat any condition, or even just have something to do when you’re bored. At least, that’s how everything gets viewed. There are indeed times when taking a pill is incredibly beneficial to one’s health. For instance, vitamin supplements. Nothing could possibly be bad about vitamin supplements, right? Well, take a second here and let’s figure out whether you’re really getting anything out of said supplements.

Before we go any further, I just want to ask whether you take vitamin supplements because your doctor prescribed them, or because you felt they were good to take. Those of you with a doctor’s note, yes, you have a perfectly valid reason for needing those. Medical professionals can ascertain whether you’re deficient in specific core nutrients and such that for one reason or another have become deficient or in much greater demand. Either way, a doctor giving one person medication does not mean that everyone should take said medication.

What a lot of people misunderstand is that a vitamin or mineral supplement is just that: supplemental. In most cases people assume that they don’t need to actually eat fruit because they take a vitamin C supplement every day, or that a diet consisting of garbage food can be balanced out because they take a daily multivitamin. It doesn’t work that way. In most cases, a vitamin supplement works in conjunction with an already healthy diet and does just what it claims to do: Supplements the diet. They cannot be a full meal replacement and do not work on their own. They very much require actual food be included before any benefit can be found.

Frequently, it’s misunderstood that most humans can be suffering from some sort of deficiency of vitamins or minerals. Saying, “Oh man, I’m really tired lately, I’m probably suffering from a potassium deficiency,” does not mean that you should go out and pops some potassium pills. It means you could do with another banana or two! Self-diagnosis is a very dangerous practice no matter what you’re diagnosing, and although taking a vitamin supplement when you don’t really need it isn’t necessarily that bad, it certainly isn’t helping how you think it is.

In fact, studies have been done to determine just how much longer a person will live thanks to vitamin supplements, and the results are pretty startling. Would you be shocked to find that it doesn’t prolong your life at all? Okay, now how shocked would you be to discover that the studies showed that a lot of dietary supplements actually lower your life expectancy? You know, the whole point of the supplements in the first place? Yeah, that would sort of be a total defeat of purpose, wouldn’t you say?

When you decide to self-diagnose a problem such as a mineral deficiency, there’s a much better and easier solution than grabbing a pill: Add in more foods high in said deficient mineral to your diet. It’s just that simple, and it’s infinitely more effective and healthier than taking a pill. The only time that supplements are actually useful is, again, when a doctor has specifically prescribed them. Otherwise you’re wasting time, money, and possibly your health. Fruits and vegetables are natural. Pills are not. Don’t take the “easy” path in this case. Balance your diet and fill in what you think you’re lacking in a natural way. Trust me, you’ll be happier because of it!