Are food supplements just a hype?

Nothing replaces a healthy diet. Some people think that if they just take a multivitamin every day, then they can have chips and soda or whatever. But actually the best way to get your vitamins and nutrients is through a healthy diet.

Fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and healthy fats still represent the foundation of a wholesome diet. And the broader the variety in your cart, the better.

With that said, why then do you even need supplements?

Nutritional supplements are consumable health products that have one or more nutrients and ingredients found in the normal food.

When you reach for that bottle of vitamin C or fish oil pills, you might wonder how well they’ll work and if they’re safe. The first thing to ask yourself is whether you need them in the first place.

My answer is, Yes!

According to the Natural Institute of Health, supplements can help you in getting enough quantities of essential nutrients. However they should never replace your daily diet, they only complement it.

Nowadays even if you are so health conscious, you are set to fail due to factors beyond your control. However, nutritional supplementation can make a dramatic impact on our health and quality of life when done right.

Nutritional deficiency is a state where your intake of nutrients is not enough for the normal functioning of the body.

Real facts on several factors which causes a healthy diet not to provide sufficient nutrients.

These include:

 1.  Soil Depletion

When plants are grown repeatedly on the same land the soil loses vitamins, minerals and microbes faster than can be replaced.  Over time there are fewer nutrients to grow. 

2.  Produce that isn’t local

Most fruits are picked weeks before being eaten and ripen while travelling on trucks and sitting on shelves.  Fruits and veggies gain many of their nutrients during the ripening phase. 

3. Toxin Exposure

Everyday we are exposed to countless toxins – from plastics, to household cleaners, stress and even food toxins.  Our body needs nutrients to deal with these toxins so as you can imagine we are utilizing a lot of nutrients just to get through a stressful day before you account for food toxins and chemical exposure. 

4.  Aging

As we age we produce less hydrochloric acid in our stomachs and digestive enzyme production goes down as well.  This results in us being unable to break down our food as well and absorb nutrients. Other factors like menopause lead to less production of collagen, leading to loss of bone density(osteoporosis) and wear and tear of cartilage and discs(osteoarthritis)

5.  Exercise

When we exercise, our bodies require more nutrients for energy production and recovery.

6.  Use of various medications

Some medications that we may be consuming for a particular condition can have adverse side effects on our bodies. For example, patients taking statins (medication used to lower cholesterol) have reduced levels of coenzyme Q10, a substance that would normally be produced freely in the body. They would therefore need supplementation for the same.

How do supplements help?

This list isn’t exhaustive because different people have various unique deficiencies depending on where they live and the diets they follow.

The purpose of the food supplement is to add that little extra to your normal diet. They ensure that you are getting a measurable amount of essential nutrients and make up for the poor nutrient content of the many foods we eat.

Experts say that 90% of us are deficient in chromium, an essential trace mineral that is poorly supplied. Stress can also increase the body’s need for certain nutrients, and these, can be easily obtained from supplements.

Then, there are antioxidant supplements that can hinder aging and cellular damage. Intake of essential nutrients in greater amounts, than can be supplied from our regular diet, has been shown to improve physical performance, fat loss and muscle gain.

Experts state that the need for supplements for disease prevention is so well documented that those who do not take at least conservative doses of antioxidants are just allowing their body to undergo unnecessary damage.

Those who exercise regularly have a much higher need for antioxidants and minerals. Also, degenerative diseases, slow brain function, poor cardiovascular health are caused when there is multiple nutrient deficiencies.

Which supplements should you take? 

There is no ‘one supplement for all’ but you can always start somewhere.

  • Get a doctor’s diagnosis.
  • Thank goodness for this digital era, there is alot of information available just by the click of a mouse. Read widely about your diagnosis and whichever symptoms you have.   
  • Check which supplement may help with your condition, on its own or in combination with medication.
  • Try one supplement, or one combination of supplements at a time so you can know what works for you and what doesn’t. 
  • A supplement may work on some people and not so well on others. If one doesn’t seem to help, research some more and move on to another one till you find what actually works for you. 

You should always discuss with your doctor what supplements you’re taking, so your care can be integrated and managed.

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