Most of us are aware that good health is the result of good nutrition and a balanced diet. Still, when we hear phrases such as “calcium deficiency” or learn that a new multivitamin has been released in the market, it makes us doubtful about the effectiveness of the food that we eat. Sadly, the reality is that it is not so effective.
You may be tempted to take a daily dose of any of the single minerals, vitamins or multivitamins/mineral supplements that are available in the supermarkets and drug stores. Dietary guidelines insist on meeting nutritional needs primarily through foods. Individuals should cultivate a healthy eating pattern that comprises of nutrient-dense foods which are packed with the essential vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and other naturally occurring substances that may bring a positive effect on health. Though individuals may require to supplement their diet sometimes, the safety of consuming such supplements should also be evaluated. This is because, augmented use of some vitamins and minerals may affect health and recommended levels should not be exceeded.
Who are the ones that need Supplements?
The perfect way to stay healthy is to consume a variety of foods from all five food groups. There are various reasons behind the use of supplements and fortified foods in some people due to their incompetency to reach the recommended nutrient amounts. Along with a healthy and balanced diet, these individuals definitely need some form of supplement depending on their situation. Older adults, pregnant women and people who are food insecure are at an increased risk of nutrient deficiencies.
Individuals consuming less than 1,600 calories every day to lose weight, individuals having a poor appetite or having trouble eating because of alcohol or drug use need to speak to their doctor or registered dietitian nutritionist on the need for supplements.
Certain set of people have limited food choices due to allergies, medical conditions or simply because they follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. For instance, animal foods are the main source of vitamin B12, hence people following a vegan diet must eat fortified foods or supplements to ensure that this nutrient is added to their body.
Women around the pregnancy age require adequate folic acid from fortified foods (cereals and other grains), supplements or both, along with the folate they consume from foods in a varied diet. This nutrient is inevitable during childbearing years as it helps reduce the risk of some birth defects. Lab reports showing low iron content in pregnant women indicate that the doctor is sure to prescribe an iron supplement.
Vitamin D is of utmost concern in infants, children and young adults. Breast-feeding infants and children consuming less than the recommended levels of vitamin D-fortified milk or formula and those with increased risk of deficiency need vitamin D supplements. Meanwhile, adolescent girls might need additional iron.
The efficacy of absorbing vitamin B12 and D becomes decreased as people age. Supplements play a crucial role in such cases. Securing vitamin B12 from fortified foods or taking it alone or as part of a multivitamin mineral can help raise B12 in your blood. Try to choose a calcium or multivitamin supplement that also contain vitamin D as a part of it.
Other individuals included under this supplementation umbrella include those who are already under certain medications or having a health condition that changes how their body uses nutrients and individuals already informed by doctors for a specific nutrient deficiency in their body.
Your physician might ask you to take a test to evaluate if taking a supplement would benefit you. Result might be either way, showing that you are low in a certain nutrient or you might be happy to find that you are doing just fine. Along with this, recheck your current eating pattern. An RDN at www.firsteatright.com is the right person to help you evaluate the foods that you eat and make suggestions that comply your personal needs.
Always remember that real food contains healthy things a pill can never supply us with. Taking nutrients from food and filling it in a pill or capsule is never the same. Study your individual situation and discuss with a doctor or an RDN before considering supplements.
Dietitian Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.