‘Dietary supplements’ is a general term that refers to concentrated sources of nutrients that are usually prescribed in addition to the daily diet to increase nutrient intake. Supplements come in many forms and can be a simple vitamin mineral formula, lecithin capsule, desiccated liver tablet, or a concentrated food like wheat germ. Supplements are thought of as super foods and designer foods because they are high in nutrients and are designed to meet certain nutritional goals.
But do you really need them? Let’s find out.
Ensuring Nutrients Supply
The foods we eat are nutrient deficient. Take a potato from a hundred years ago and it will have more than a 100 percent greater quantity of vitamins and minerals than one you’ve just pulled from the ground. As a result of massive pesticide use and over farming techniques, we aren’t getting anywhere near the benefit we should, even when we choose the healthy option!
Taking a vitamin and mineral supplement will allow you to make up for that loss of nutrient value. By providing you with a measurable quantity of each of the vitamins and minerals, you are able to make sure that you get your daily quota.
Taking a daily supplement will also help to counter the cumulative effects of a bad diet, environmental pollution and such negative lifestyle habits as smoking.
Help with Weight Loss
The majority of supplements are calorie, carbohydrate and fat free. As such, they provide you with a weight loss friendly way to get nutrients into your body. This will help you to achieve a total daily caloric deficit without compromising your nutrient needs.
Boosts for Specific Populations
Pregnant women require a reliable supply of all the essential nutrients and more nutrients like iron, folic acid, calcium, zinc, and vitamin D. Lack of sunlight (as in many parts of the northern hemisphere) leads to vitamin D deficiency. During pandemic lockdowns, many people are having a reduced level of exposure to sunlight, so supplementing with Vitamin D will help them to compensate.
The elderly may need supplemental nutrition due to low intake of food and poor digestion. Supplemental amounts of protective nutrients like the antioxidants will help to counter the effects of aging, cellular damage, and other disorders.
Athletes and gym goers may benefit from taking performance enhancing supplements that are able to provide them with all of the nutrients they need to be at their best. This may assist with muscle building, training focus and performance and fat loss.
Is a Multivitamin Enough?
Taking a daily multivitamin is a smart nutritional decision. It will provide you with the RDA of a range of important vitamins and minerals that will act as a type of nutritional insurance. However, multivitamins, by their very nature, take a one size fits all approach. They do not account for individual vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Identifying and addressing your specific nutritional deficiencies with individual vitamins and minerals will provide you with a more personalized approach.
There are some companies that offer a service where they firstly analyze your vitamin and mineral profile to determine your deficiencies They will then produce a personalized vitamin/mineral supplement for you.You can fund these with a simple Google search.
- Check with your doctor if taking a supplement when you are on prescribed medication.
- Do not take more than the recommended daily dosage.
- Look for a seal of certification from an overseeing body on the label.
- Be wary of over the top claims in advertising.
‘Natural’ on the label doesn’t mean that it is safe – it may interact with medication or be unsuitable for certain conditions.