The majority of people do not need to take supplements. You can get all the micronutrients that your body needs from eating healthy foods.
Many people however choose to buy and use food supplements. But there is a risk of over supplementing in this way.
The body only requires a small amount of these supplements to function properly.
That said, for certain groups of people, it is recommended to take supplements.
Let’s find out more!
The word food or dietary supplements is a general term that describes minerals and vitamins needed for our bodies to function normally.
Studies done on the four most commonly used vitamins and minerals, vitamin D, C and calcium showed they did not offer much protection against cardiovascular disease.
That said, folic acid, vitamin C and Vitamin A can help reduce the occurrence of stroke.
And yet, there is a huge percentage of the population that still use food supplements religiously.
Why is that?
Well, people take supplements first and foremost as a way to meet their daily nutritional requirements.
Secondly, people tend to feel healthier due to the placebo effect of doing something healthy.
Doctors will recommend pregnant women take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day of the first trimester.
This also goes for women who are trying for a baby as well as women who think that they may get pregnant.
For best practice, the right time to take folic acid is before getting pregnant. Also called vitamin B9, folic has huge benefits for both mother and unborn child. For one it helps to prevent spina bifida and other neural tube defects.
We get most of our vitamin D from the sun and from eating foods rich in this vitamin. All through the warm and sunny months, our bodies make sufficient amounts of vitamin D. During these months, there is no need to take a supplement.
However, things change during the cold seasons quite literary. Our bodies are unable to make sufficient amounts of vitamin D as there is limited sunlight. Generally, people also don’t get enough vitamin D from the food they eat.
For these reasons, everyone including pregnant breastfeeding women is advised to take around 10 micrograms of vitamin D every day.
There are groups in the population that are less likely to get enough vitamin D and should therefore take the supplement.
Dietary supplements are big business. In the United States alone, the industry is estimated at around $30 billion each year. The largest demographic of dietary supplement users include older individuals aged 60 years and over.
One thing to always keep in mind is that dietary supplements should never be used as a substitute for good and proper nutrition. You stand to gain much greater benefits by observing a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet.
Taking high doses of beta Carotene increases the risk of developing lung cancer in smokers.
Excessive intake of vitamin B6 can cause nerve damage. This can ultimately result in impaired movement.
Taking too much calcium or vitamin D can increase the chances of developing kidney stones.
A high dosage of vitamin K can cause problems with the blood thinners and their anti-clotting effects.
Taking too much Vitamin E can cause bleeding in the brain which could result in a stroke.
The answer as to whether or not you need food supplements comes down to a few factors. On normal days the vitamins and minerals in food are sufficient for healthy living. However, you will need supplementation if you are pregnant, or during cold weather.