When Are Dietary Supplements Necessary?
In the case of vitamin-mineral supplements, many Canadians take at least one every day.† Some reasons for taking them are:
∑ Nutritional insurance. In fact, it takes many weeks or months for vitamin or mineral deficiencies to happen. Eating a well-balanced diet based on Canadaís Food Guide for Healthy Eating is the best way to ensure that you are eating adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals for your body.
∑ Dieting.† If you are eating less than 1,800 calories per day, it may be difficult to get all the nutrients that your body requires.† You should talk to a dietitian about proper meal planning and ask your doctor whether a multi-vitamin supplement is necessary.
∑ Energy.† Contrary to popular opinion, we donít get energy from vitamins and minerals but from the calories we eat through protein, carbohydrate, and fat.
∑ Stress.† Some people either eat a lot or not enough when they are stressed out.† Eating a well-balanced diet can help you cope with stress.† People with emotional stress donít require vitamin-mineral supplementation.† However, those recovering from physical stresses such as an operation or a severe infection may need extra vitamins and minerals.
∑ Colds. Vitamin C was once thought to cure the common cold, but recent studies have shown that this isnít the case.† However, extra vitamin C may help in reducing cold symptoms in some people.†
In each of these cases, vitamin-mineral supplementation is really not required.† However, there are times when supplementation with certain vitamins and minerals may be necessary in older adults:
∑ If no animal foods such as egg or milk products are eaten, iron, zinc and vitamin Bl2 supplements may be needed.
∑ People with food allergies, food intolerances, or poor appetites may need vitamin-mineral supplementation.
∑ People who are housebound or in hospital need vitamin D if they are not getting milk products.
∑ People who can't digest dairy products may need calcium.
∑ Certain medicines such as laxatives, some antibiotics and aspirin can interact with some vitamins and minerals. Check with a pharmacist or a dietitian.
∑ If the drinking water is low in fluoride, fluoride may be recommended.† Ask your dentist.
You should always exercise caution when taking supplements of any kind.† Toxic effects of high doses of vitamins and minerals are well documented.† Besides, food tastes a whole lot better than supplements.