Every individual needs essential nutrients in the right quantities to maintain optimum health. Ideally, you get them from your everyday meals. But the meals need to be balanced. However, not all pay attention to what they eat daily, resulting in nutritional deficiency. Certain health issues also prevent one from utilising the nutrients present in the food. So, the best solution to meet your health needs is taking supplements.
But picking the right supplement can get overwhelming with so many choices available. Hence, before you visit your nearest supplement shop, you may want to know a few things which could help with your purchase. Read the following section to know more.
Why do you need supplements?
Macro and micronutrients in a certain amount are necessary for optimal body functions. But when the food is devoid of essential nutrients, it can affect overall health and the ability to perform regular activities. So, supplements are included along with a diet that comprises a concentrated dosage of minerals, proteins, vitamins or antioxidants that meet the nutritional needs. However, you must know that the supplements you take are add-ons and not substitutes or replacements for foods.
What are the different types of supplements?
The commonly available supplements in any supplement shop are:
- Traditional vitamins and minerals
- Specific nutrients like Omega 3s
- Antioxidant compounds like amino acids and phytonutrients
- Adaptogens and herbs
- Non-food compounds like melatonin
Do you need supplements?
If your diet lacks important nutrients, supplements can support your health. These can meet your daily requirement of vital nutrients you cannot get from your food. Some of the common reasons why you need to take dietary supplements include:
When you cut down on certain foods, you need to be cautious of the nutritional value of your diet. Whether following a keto, paleo or vegan diet, you need to eliminate certain foods that may increase the risk of nutritional deficiency.
For example, vegetarians and vegans have reduced levels of iodine, zinc, iron, and Vitamin B12. Similarly, dairy-free and paleo diets may lead to Vitamin D or calcium deficiency.
With age, the ability of the body to break down nutrients and absorb them declines. You may also need to take certain medications that deplete the nutrients, and supplements are the only way to restore the balance.
Individuals over 50 have an increased need for vitamin B12, Vitamin D and calcium. These vitamins are especially important for post-menopausal women as they risk reduced bone density resulting from hormonal changes. Therefore, D3 and calcium supplements are generally recommended to minimise these risks.
Soil depletion affects nutrient quality.
Modern farming techniques replaced conventional farming methods over the years, which has affected the nutrient quality of foods. Nutrients primarily affected by soil depletion include calcium, iron, vitamin C, riboflavin, phosphorus and proteins. So, taking the right supplements is a way to compensate for the deficiency of these nutrients.
Pregnancy or lactation
The need for nutrients increases for pregnant and lactating women for the growth and development of the baby; hence, the importance of prenatal and postnatal vitamins should not be taken lightly. Some essential vitamin and mineral supplements for expecting and new mothers are vitamin D, vitamin C, calcium, zinc, iron and folic acid.
Nothing can compensate for a well-balanced diet. So, while you take supplements, don’t forget to include healthy fats, lean protein, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. If choosing the right supplement is daunting for you, a registered dietician can review your nutrient concerns and make appropriate recommendations.