Do I Need Nutritional Supplements?
A long-standing view by many in the medical and health professions is the view that if you eat properly (a well-balanced diet) that you will obtain all the nutrients your body needs. Therefore, you are simply wasting money taking nutritional supplements. While that may have once been true in the past, our present day environment is greatly different than the past.
First, the recommend daily allowances (RDA) of various nutrients are the amounts of each nutrient needed to prevent disease or a deficiency. That is far different than the amount of a particular nutrient needed for optimal health. Secondly, nutritional needs vary from one individual to another based on activity level, any co-existing disease (if you’re sick you need more nutrients), and individual genetic differences. For instance, athletes will need more nutrients which can now be obtained in a number of sports nutrition supplements.
Here are 10 reasons why you should take nutritional supplements or nutraceuticals.
1. Soil Depletion. Some reports show that as much as 80% of soil is deficient in nutrients. Therefore, fruits and vegetables grown in such soil will be deficient in some vital nutrients. In addition, excessive nitrogen in fertilizers enable plants to grow faster and bigger. The problem is they grow too fast and do not absorb adequate amounts of nutrients from the soil.
2. Overcooking. Food is many times cooked to long or at too high of a temperature. This destroys vitamins especially the B complex vitamins, and vitamins C and E. Microwaving can also destroy some nutrients.
3. Aging. Older individuals typically have lower intakes of vitamins and minerals, and because of gastrointestinal disorders may not absorb the nutrients they are getting in their foods. Vitamin D is made in our skin, but our skin produces less vitamin D as we age.
4. Environmental Toxins. We live a very toxic environment from excessive use of pesticides affecting our water and soil, and also from air pollution. The body has a built-in defense mechanism to deal with these environmental toxins, but it requires higher levels of nutrients to do the job.
5. Antibiotic use. The intestinal tract is home to friendly bacteria that aid in digestion and absorption of necessary nutrients like the B complex vitamins. Antibiotics, though valuable in fighting infection, can disrupt the normal intestinal flora leading to vitamin deficiency.
6. Alcohol and Smoking. The need for higher levels of B complex vitamins and minerals like zinc, magnesium, and calcium occurs from regular alcohol use. Smoking increases the need for vitamin C.
7. Illness. Chronic diseases and infection increase the need for most nutrients. In addition, nutritional needs are higher with surgery to facilitate tissue healing.
8. Lack of Sun Exposure. As mentioned above vitamin D is produced in our skin. Exposure to sunlight is necessary for vitamin D production. Elderly who spend most of the day indoors are at particular risk for vitamin D deficiency.
9. Physical Activity. Additional nutrients are necessary with increasing levels of activity. Muscle tissues need to be repaired after exercise and energy stores require replacement to support normal physiologic functions.
10. Food Allergies. Many people nowadays suffer from food allergies potentially depriving the body of essential nutrients. Allergies to lactose or gluten and lead to deficiencies in thiamine, riboflavin, and calcium.
So eat well but consider nutritional supplementation to ensure that your levels of nutrients is optimal. The best supplement options for most people are a multivitamin/mineral complex, fish oil, and vitamin D.
See related articles.