Dieters, athletes and everyone in between use vitamin supplements to boost their nutrition - but are these supplements really effective? As with many similar health-related questions, there is no easy yes or no answer to this query. Doctors always recommend that whole foods be the main sources of vitamins and nutrients, with supplements only taken as necessary. However, there are certain vitamins and minerals where supplements are appropriate if your diet is lacking in these nutrients.
Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, potassium, and calcium are just a few of the nutrients that are not delivered in adequate amounts in our diets. Anyone with deficiencies in these areas will benefit from supplements that are used in a complementary manner with a balanced diet.
If you are concerned that there may be gaps in your nutritional intake, the best first step is to evaluate your current diet. Review the government’s recommended daily amounts and compare them to your food intake. This simple review will reveal gaps in the nutritional value of your diet. Before you automatically jump to add supplements to your daily routine, consider what foods can close the gap. After taking this step and still falling short, supplements may be helpful.
A high-quality multivitamin is usually sufficient to boost most people’s nutritional profile to suitable levels. Check the label to ensure that there is a maximum of 100% of the RDA, because too much of any supplement or vitamin can be dangerous and cause unnecessary health problems. As potassium and vitamin D are reported to be lacking in a majority of Americans, check to make sure they are both included in your multivitamin.
For women of childbearing age who do plan to have children, folic acid and iron supplements are recommended. If you are taking folic acid be sure to take no more than 1,000 micrograms per day. Grains also contain a high level of folic acid and this food can be added to your diet to increase your consumption, rather than taking a supplement. Women who are in menopause do not require iron supplements, nor do men.
If you are concerned about your nutritional levels, it may be beneficial to meet with a registered dietician or nutritionist to review your diet and to get their recommendations on any supplements that could be helpful to you. People who eat a healthy and well-rounded diet will benefit the least from supplements. If you are a picky eater or have a poor diet, taking a multivitamin will likely help your overall health and wellness.
Vegans and people who eat a mainly vegetarian diet will also benefit from a multi-vitamin as well as supplements for B12 and potassium. Food allergy sufferers are another group that benefits from supplements, especially those that are lactose intolerant. Taking active control of your diet and nutrition will likely pay dividends as you age, and getting started on a healthy eating regimen now is always a good idea.
Fresh foods, regular exercise, and supplements for any nutrients that are missing from your diet, are the pillars of a healthy and complete diet. If you are concerned that you may not be getting the nutrients that you need, meeting with a nutritionist can help you fill in any gaps and give you greater peace of mind.