Although there are countless misunderstood supplements, fiber and vitamin C are two in particular that are often misinterpreted and misused. Both fiber and vitamin C are popular supplements, but very few people fully understand the ways in which they influence health.
Fiber has become a popular supplement because of studies that have found it to be correlated with various health markers. It seems that food without fiber causes far more problems than food with it. This makes sense because fiber is often found in whole fruits and vegetables, whereas many refined carbohydrates and junk foods don’t have fiber. It is believed that fiber slows the absorption of sugars and aids with several digestive processes, therefore improving the health benefits your body can derive from specific foods. An important distinction, however, is that fiber itself is no inherently good or bad for you, it simply aids in the process of digestion but your body doesn’t actually use fiber as a nutrient. This is important because fiber supplements don’t seem to function in the same way as fiber naturally occurring in food, meaning that taking fiber supplements between meals or even during meals may not have the same positive effects on digestion.
Vitamin C is essential to good health, as deficiency can lead to conditions such as scurvy. However, the quantities provided in supplements are far in excess of what the human body is adapted to process. For example, an apple contains less than 10 mg of vitamin C, but some supplements contain more than 1000 mg. To overdose on vitamin C, you’d have to consistently take those kind of high-dose supplements, and your body can actually adapt to process even more than that (although it just expels most of it). The lesson here, however, is that more isn’t necessarily better when it comes to vitamins, and overconsumption can lead to nausia, diarrhea and so on.