The fresh foods you eat are full of nutrients necessary for good health, such as magnesium, calcium, and vitamins A and C. However, many people, especially the elderly, those who are ill or eat poorly, and live in a hurry do not get enough nutrients from the diet.
The typical menu of the average Kowalski is filled with low-nutrient, high-sugar foods. However, even if you eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, you may still not have the nutrients you need. This is a consequence of the aging of the body. As we age, our ability to absorb nutrients from food decreases. And although energy needs are decreasing, we still need the strength to function normally. Can a supplement make up the difference? Let’s check.
The supplement market and our daily needs
The value of sales of dietary supplements in our country in 2018 amounted to several billion dollars. About 70% of Poles say that they would be willing to use additional supplementation, and in practice nearly half of them do it regularly. Growing awareness, ubiquitous advertising, high availability and a kind of fashion contribute to their greater consumption. How to find yourself in this maze of products and needs?
First, let’s think about whether there are supplements at all and what are they for? When is it best to use them, and in what situations can they contribute to the deterioration of health?
A dietary supplement is a food that is to supplement the daily diet by providing us with vitamins, minerals or other nutrients or other physiological effects. It is also supposed to reduce the risk of chronic diseases caused by irrational nutrition. Uncontrolled consumption of supplements may contribute to the occurrence of serious effects, such as overdosing of certain ingredients and undesirable interactions with drugs or other supplements.
Simple rules for the use of dietary supplements
We should remember that the safe use of supplements is preceded by a medical and dietary consultation, especially if we use any medications. The specialist should take into account our age, existing diseases, diet and physical activity. Deficiencies in certain nutrients can worsen your health and lead to chronic disease, and supplementation is a good way to fill gaps in your diet. It is important not to overdo it, because, for example, increased amounts of vitamin A may not be beneficial for us. Let’s see in which situations the use of supplements is good and justified for us, and when it is not recommended.
People who eat poorly
A balanced diet full of fresh vegetables and fruits, fish and vegetable oils could meet our daily needs for essential nutrients, but I know that nowadays it is difficult to focus on an ideal and thoughtful diet. Our menu is most often the result of stress at work and at home and the eternal lack of time. This is why we also lack some vitamins (for example vitamin D) and minerals. If we do not have a varied diet, we should use supplementation.
Also, people who follow an exclusive diet, such as vegans or vegetarians, should consider supplementing it. The lack of meat and animal products increases the risk of vitamin B12, PP, calcium and vitamin D deficiencies.
Pregnant women and children and postmenopausal women
When planning to become pregnant or being a mother-to-be, it is absolutely necessary to perform appropriate tests and apply additional supplementation depending on the results and needs. It is worth supporting the body with folic acid (400 micrograms a day), and from the first month of pregnancy, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in a dose of 500 mg a day.
Breastfed infants may be deficient in vitamin D, therefore doctors recommend supplementation at a dose of 400 IU daily from the first day of life, provided that the mother has not taken supplementation or from the age of 3 week of life, if supplemented during pregnancy.
Also, postmenopausal women may be at risk of bone loss and the development of osteoporosis due to decreased estrogen levels. In their case, supplementation with calcium and vitamin D is recommended.
Possible harm of dietary supplements
As with everything in excess, we must be careful and careful with dietary supplements. Unreasonable use of them without consulting a doctor may have undesirable consequences for our health. In such cases, there is a risk of hypervitaminosis, which mainly affects fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin A (provitamin A, beta-carotene) and vitamin D. They accumulate in adipose tissue and poison the body. It is also easy to overdose on minerals such as iron, copper, manganese, fluorine, and calcium. Additionally, dietary supplements can interact with medications, food ingredients, and with each other, which increases the risk of side effects.