For many people, they self prescribe supplements on the advice of friends, advertisements, and websites or books that may or may not reliable.
In my opinion, supplements cannot substitute for a healthy diet. When the diet is inadequate, one should starts to improve food choices and eating habits first. Ideally, all of us should get all the nutrients we need for optimal health from fresh, healthy nutrient-dense foods.
However in reality, this is often difficult. Modern farming practices have resulted in soils that are lacking in nutrients. Furthermore, harvesting, transporting, extensive processing, improper storage and cooking methods, causing many of the foods that reach our tables cannot meet our nutritional needs. More often than not, due to hectic and stressful lifestyle, food choices are always limited.
For many people, they self prescribe supplements on the advice of friends, advertisements, and websites or books that may or may not reliable. Sometimes, they take supplements on the recommendation of a physician. When such advice follows a valid nutrition assessment, supplementation may be warranted. Without an assessment, the advice to take supplements may be inappropriate. A nutritional therapist can help with the decision.
Who needs supplements?
When someone has a specific condition, for example:
People with specific nutrient deficiencies need specific nutrient supplements. For example, an iron deficiency anemic person need to increase their intake of iron.
Vegetarians who eat all plant based diets (vegans) and older adults with atrophic gastritis need vitamin B12.
People in certain stages of the life cycle who have increased nutrient requirements need specific nutrient supplements. For example infants need iron, women of childbearing age and pregnant women need folate and iron and the elderly need vitamin B12 and D.
People who have diseases, infections, or injuries or who have undergone surgery that interferes with the intake, absorption, metabolism, or excretion of nutrients may need a specific nutrient supplement that contains immune boosting properties.
People taking medications that interfere with the body’s use of specific nutrients may need specific supplements.
Vitamins supplements come in 2 groups – synthetic and natural. Synthetic vitamins are produced in laboratories from isolated chemicals that imitate their counterparts found in nature.
Natural vitamins are derived from food sources that contain the total complex family of micro-nutrients (known and unknown) just as they are found in nature.
These micro-nutrients are indispensable for proper vitamin absorption and maximum utilization. That's the only way you can have optimum nutrition. Some supplements may include artificial colouring , preservatives, sugars, starch and additives.
It is necessary to read labels carefully to make sure the products you buy contain nutrients from food sources, with none of the artificial and harmful elements mentioned above.
By: Ms Esther Peh - SOL Senior Naturopath