Should You Supplement?

There is much debate over whether it is necessary or not to supplement your diet with additional vitamins and minerals. Some health experts will tell you that store-bought supplements are a great way to ensure you meet your nutritional needs, whereas others have suggested that this is not necessary when you lead a balanced and healthy life.

Vitamins and Minerals

The essential nutrients that your body needs are known as vitamins and minerals. Each component is generally only required in a small amount, meaning it isn’t difficult to reach your daily quota through dietary sources. This information has become incredibly confused over the past few decades as the marketing hype surrounding many health products continues to be accepted as fact by many consumers. 

Helpful or Harmful

Although many people believe that taking vitamin and mineral supplements is helpful and a good idea, there is actually evidence to suggest that consuming these products over an extended period of time can eventually become harmful.

If you are aware that you have an existing deficiency of a certain vitamin or mineral, then it is possible that you can address this by taking supplements. If you do not have a deficiency, then there is potentially not much to be gained by including these products in your daily routine. 

Vitamin C is one of the most popular choices among those who opt to take a vitamin supplement. However, vitamin C is found in abundance in many foods, and a deficiency in this vitamin is actually pretty rare these days. In fact, having too much vitamin C in your system can lead to the development of kidney stones, which is an incredibly painful health condition!

Vitamin A is another common choice among supplement takers, and it is favoured for its important role in helping to preserve the health of your eyes. However, too much vitamin A can actually have some serious side effects, and there have been recorded cases of fatal vitamin A toxicity. As with vitamin C, this vitamin is also plentiful in many foods, and it is not difficult to nourish your body in this way with the right foods!

A Healthy Balanced Diet

If you are eating a diet that is full of a variety of healthy foods then you more than likely do not need to take supplements. Aiming to include fruits, vegetables and nuts in your diet every day will go a long way to helping you fulfil your nutritional needs. If you are not particularly excited by food, or do not really enjoy cooking for yourself, then you can find quick and simple ways to include various superfoods for maximum benefit with minimal effort.

Superfoods are those foods which have an especially impressive nutritional profile, and can therefore provide your body with many vitamins, minerals and other good things in a relatively small serving. Some of the most popular superfoods that are widely available today are blueberries, chia seeds, kale, goji berries, spirulina and raw cacao - among many more! 

Exceptions

If you follow a vegan diet, or a diet that is largely plant-based, then it is possible that your diet may be lacking an adequate amount of vitamin B12. Opting for a weekly supplement could therefore be a good idea, but you can also easily find foods that have been fortified with vitamin B12, such as various plant milks or coconut yoghurt.

Taking folic acid supplements whilst pregnant is another exception. Anyone who is pregnant or planning to get pregnant in the near future should consider doing so. This is because folic acid is useful in helping to prevent defects of the neural tubes, such as spina bifida.

Vitamin D is something that we all need to get into our diets as it supports many essential functions in the body. This is especially important during the winter months as we generally get the majority of our vitamin D from sunshine. If you do not spend an ample amount of time outside, or you live in an area that does not enjoy a sunny climate, then a vitamin D supplement could be a sensible choice for your optimum health.

Finally, if you have a child that is a particularly fussy eater, then it may be a good idea to give them supplements for vitamins A and C, as well as the aforementioned vitamin D. This is because these essential nutrients are likely to be lacking if your child is not encouraged to eat a healthy range of foods.

Assess Your Health

If you are currently taking supplements then it is advisable that you take a moment to consider why you are taking them, and if it is truly necessary for your optimum health. Do you know that your health will be negatively affected if you stop taking them? Or have you opted to take them simply because of the marketing hype surrounding these products? Talk to your healthcare professional for some specific advice and then make an informed decision for yourself!

References

1) http://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/1122.aspx?categoryid=51

2) http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevensalzberg/2013/10/07/the-top-five-vitamins-you-should-not-take/#3c58f7e21708