Are you unsure if you should add additional nutrients in the form of a supplement to your daily regime? If you answered yes, you’re probably not the only one! Supplement shopping can get a little overwhelming and it can be hard to know which ones are worth taking. Our nutrition expert and associate nutritionist Riya Lakhani ANutr explains the importance of vitamins to support optimal health as well as highlighting the reasons why you might consider adding supplements to your daily regime.
Dietary supplements can provide vital nutrients (the same nutrients found in food) to help support health, increase energy levels, boost mood and provide mental clarity. They come in various forms including capsules, syrups, powders and blends containing ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes, amino acids and herbs. As the name suggests, they serve as a way to supplement our nutritional needs.
It’s important to know that we absolutely should be able to get all the nutrients we need from healthy dietary habits. Opting for varied, balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, legumes, beans and pulses, good quality sources of protein, whole grains and unsaturated fats along with exercise and healthy restful sleep can help you level up your nutrient game. But for certain people, it may not be quite as simple to get enough of the nutrients they need from their lifestyle alone- that’s when nutritional supplementation can make all the difference! We’ve put together the top 7 reasons why you might consider adding supplements to your daily routine.
1. Prevent Nutrient Shortfalls
Some days you might miss out on getting enough of your recommended portions of fruits and vegetables. Although you should try hard to eat a balanced diet every day, it’s a good idea to take a multivitamin daily to ensure you’re getting in all of your essential nutrients. Multivitamins are a useful tool to help bridge the nutrition gap, helping us maintain a proper balance of nutrients every day.
2. Dietary Restrictions
It’s really important to be mindful of the nutrients that your diet might be lacking once you cut our certain foods or food groups. Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian or following a special diet (keto), you’re at a higher risk of not getting specific nutrients. This can easily be addressed with a well-planned diet within the addition of fortified foods and in many cases supplementation.
3. Allergies and Intolerances
Cutting out food groups due to a food intolerance or allergy could lead to a deficiency of certain nutrients such as protein, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A and vitamin B2. Fortunately, these days there are many alternative foods to be used as replacements, but it is still recommended for those with allergies and intolerances to consider including a supplement in their daily regime to reduce the risk of developing any deficiencies.
4. Over Pregnancy and Lactation
Nutritional needs increase during preconception, right through pregnancy and when breastfeeding. These times are critical for both the mother to be and the growing baby, so it’s really important for expecting mothers to ensure they meet their additional daily nutrient needs. With that in mind, the importance of prenatal and postnatal vitamins cannot be understated! The most important nutrients to get enough of are folic acid, vitamin D, iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin C and omega 3.
5. Older Adults
Nutrient needs vary by age, gender and lifestyle. For example, as we age, our body doesn’t have the same capability to absorb some key nutrients the same way, particularly vitamin D, B12, folic acid and calcium. This is thought to be due to a number of physical changes that occur as we age, resulting in a reduced absorption of certain vitamins- that’s why supplementation may be required for people over 50.
6. Cooking Methods
The further a food product is from its natural form, the less it retains its healthful nutritional properties. Every cooking method that exposes foods to heat, light or oxygen reduces the nutritional value of foods. But in most cases when you’re boiling your food, you lose the most amount of nutrients. This is because vitamin C and B vitamins are water-soluble vitamins, and some levels of these vitamins tend to migrate into the boiling water whilst you’re cooking. You can increase the amount of macro and micronutrients available in your food by skipping, boiling, steaming, frying or baking. You can also consider adding a supplement to act as a vitamin “insurance policy”.
7. Soil Depletion and Soil Damage
Over the years, farming techniques have changed and has led to a gradual decline in the quality of vitamins and minerals in the soil. This means that less and less of these vital nutrients are making their way into the foods that we consume. To ensure you get enough nutrients, you should aim to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day- although some studies even suggest that this number should be much higher at 10 servings a day due to soil depletion. Where this isn’t possible, a multivitamin can help fill in the nutritional gaps.
Luckily, there are many things you can do to help prevent nutrient deficiencies. Beyond maintaining a healthy lifestyle which includes good nutrition from a balanced diet, restful sleep, plenty of exercise and keeping stress at bay, supplements can certainly help you reach your nutrient goals!
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