This section is designed to help you answer for yourself whether or not you need to take vitamin and mineral supplements. It sifts through the pros and cons of vitamin and mineral supplements and the facts and fallacies associated with nutrient supplements.
You will often find that you don’t eat the right food, will skip meals when you are busy and sometimes drink coffee to help keep you going. This means that you are not getting the complete vitamin and mineral nutrients you need and will need to help yourself out with supplements. In an ideal world where we would be able to eat whole foods that were able to deliver all of our vitamin and mineral nutrient needs, we wouldn’t need to take supplements. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that ideal world.
Things that contribute to our imperfect nutrient world are:
- A busy, stressful life styles which mean that we neglect our vitamin and mineral needs, and have to substitute fast convenient foods which are often low in the nutrients that we need.
- A different genetic make up. Some people need more of a particular nutrient than others. We are still only beginning to understand what this means in terms of our diet, but it does seem clear that some people actually need very large quantities of particular nutrients in order to stay healthy. They would find it very difficult to eat sufficient foods containing those nutrients and will need supplements to get what they need.
- The busy, stressful nature of our lifestyles means that we need more in the way of vitamin and minerals to deal with the chemicals (including free radicals) that our bodies produce.
- Even when we have the time and energy to prepare foods that we would think should contain sufficient vitamins and minerals some of the nutrients have already disappeared from the foods. Fresh foods, such as fruit and vegetables, begin to lose their nutrient qualities as soon as they are picked at the farm. There can be long time between the picking and the appearance on our plate.
- Our environment is full of many toxic chemicals such as air pollutants (cigarette smoke and car fumes), water pollutants, pesticides, herbicides, dust and pollens to suggest just a few. These all add to the needs of our bodies for vitamin and mineral nutrients.
- Smoking and/or drinking too much alcohol.
- Not enough rest or sleep and drinking too much tea and coffee. These also increase our vitamin and mineral needs.
- We may already be suffering from the symptoms of minor or not so minor health deficiencies.
- Extra vitamin and mineral demands being placed on our bodies because of pregnancy, child birth or nursing a baby.
- An athlete who wants to be sure that the body is performing at its most efficient level.
- Particular dietary problems such as celiac or Crohn’s disease or follow a particular diet such as vegetarianism. These may mean that you are unable to take in sufficient nutrients or have difficulty absorbing sufficient nutrients.
- The soils on which many of our foods have been grown are themselves depleted of essential nutrients which means that even if we were able to eat sufficient whole foods we still might not get the nutrients we need.
In addition any of the following diseases we will also benefit by taking vitamin and mineral supplements.
- cardiovascular disease (including heart attacks, angina, heart surgery or deep venous thrombosis (DVT),
- dementia, senility,
- inflammatory problems, such as, arthritis, asthma or eczema,
- fibromyalgia, especially with chronic fatigue,
- osteoporosis or decreasing bone mass density,
- pregnancy problems (including repeated miscarriage, premature births, difficulty conceiving, giving birth to an infant with Down’s syndrome’, club foot, spina bifida or cleft palate),
- headaches, including migraines,
- kidney problems
- vaginal dysplasia (a precancerous condition of the cervix),
- stomach ulcers (especially if Helicobacter pyloric infection related),
- inflammatory bowel disease (including celiac disease, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), and
- thyroid problems.
The list of factors is quite extensive and then to that list can be added anybody who is:
- undergoing life changes such as teenage growth spurts or menopause.
- psychological challenges such as stress, changing jobs, getting married or losing a loved one.
Who then needs to be taking vitamin and mineral supplements?