According to the definition given by dictionary.com a “supplement” is something that completes another thing when added to it. If you are an individual who gets all the required nutrients naturally with a balanced diet, you don’t need to take any dietary supplements at all. If however, your regular diet lacks in any of the required vitamins and minerals, you should take supplements containing them, for staying healthy. For example, if you avoid dairies you will not get enough calcium and if you refuse to take fruits or vegetables, your body will become deficient in vitamin C. Also, adults over the age of 50 and pregnant women also need an extra supply of nutrients and hence require supplements.
Shereen Jegtvig, an About.com Guide, writes on whether you need dietary supplements or not and says that an easy way to be certain that you are getting the right amounts of vitamins and minerals every day is to take a dose of multivitamin, daily. A multivitamin is inexpensive and contains all the minerals and vitamins that people are prone to be deficient in normally; the amounts of the constituent minerals and vitamins are well below their safe upper limit (UL) so there is no risk of toxicity involved if you take the suggested dose of multivitamin.
Vitamin D and Calcium are two of the more important minerals and vitamins that people tend to be deficient in. Both are interrelated in their functions and effects on the body, calcium being the major component of bones and vitamin D being the hormone that ensures calcium is deposited into the bones in the right amounts. Deficiency of either will lead to a condition called “osteoporosis,” that is characterized by weak bones and frequent fractures.
Other important minerals and vitamins listed by Shereen Jegtvig in her article include folic acid, chondroitin, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants. Women of childbearing age are suggested to take extra folic acid to reduce the chances of birth defects in their babies. Folic acid also reduces the risk of heart diseases as do omega-3 fatty acids, like fish oils.
Complex carbohydrates like chondroitin and glucosamine are the constituents of the fluid that keeps joints flexible. In old age, supplements of these compounds can reduce joint pains, according to a research that gave a supplement of 1200 mg of chondroitin sulphate combined with 1500 mg of glucosamine, to participants of their study.
Antioxidants are popular for their anti-cancer and anti-cardiovascular disease effects. Shereen Jegtvig includes an interesting result of a study on the antioxidants present in vitamin E, vitamin C, beta carotenes (Vitamin A) and zinc that showed a supplement of these reduced the risk of macular degeneration related to advanced age. The study used 500 mg vitamin C, 2 mg copper oxide, 80 mg zinc oxide, 400 IU vitamin E, and 15 mg beta carotene.
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