Do I Really Need Dietary Supplements?

 

Our diet should provide us with all the nutrients our bodies need.  However, we all know we do not eat “healthy”.  With busy lives, children, and career it is much easier to order a pizza, stop by McDonalds, or open a ready-made dinner product.  Without eating fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains our bodies become depleted.  Add lack of exercise and increase stress and we feel tired, weak, and do not function efficiently. 

Will a Supplement be all I Need?

Taking supplements do help but are not a substitute for healthy eating.  However, if you absolutely detest milk, a calcium supplement is not only an excellent option, but necessary for bone maintenance.  Focus on eating sufficient amounts of fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, lean meats, fish, poultry, nuts, seeds and legumes as often as possible.

Are all Supplements Safe?

Vitamins are either fat soluble (vitamins A, D, E and K) or water soluble (vitamins B and C).  Fat soluble vitamins are stored in fat and can remain there over time.  Water soluble vitamins are excreted through the kidneys on a daily basis so it is very difficult to build up unhealthy levels.  Make sure you follow the dosage recommendations listed on the label.

Some supplements may interfere with medications and either impair or enhance their effects.  Tell your practitioner about any supplements you are taking.

Supplement labels may not state specific health claims unless the product has FDA approval. The manufacturer can state how the supplement may affect the structure of function of the body but cannot claim a promise to cure a disease or a guarantee to prevent any disease. 

What Supplements do I Need?

  • Calcium:  Milk and dairy products provide Calcium and many people don’t ingest enough calcium-containing foods. Calcium assists in strengthening bones.  Weakened bones can lead to osteoporosis.
    • The recommended amount of calcium for most adults is about 1200 mg per day.
  • Vitamin D:  The main source of Vitamin D is at least 20mins of sun exposure each day.  With working indoors and the advocacy of sun screen to prevent skin cancer, most of us lack adequate Vitamin D.  Vitamin D is important for calcium absorption.  New research is finding more benefits of Vitamin D in relation to blood pressure, arthritis, stress, and a host of other conditions. 
    •  An average adult needs about 400 IU of vitamin D.
  • Fish Oil: The best source of this omega-3 fatty acid is fatty fish or flaxseed.  Fish Oil helps prevent cardiovascular disease.
    • Studies suggest that 0.5 to 1.8 grams of fish oil per day is an effective amount.
  • Folic Acid:Foods rich in Folic Acid (or Folate) are green leafy vegetables, citrus fruit and legumes. Folic acid supplementation taken up to 3 months prior to pregnancy and continued throughout pregnancy has been shown to reduce neural tube defects. Folate has also been linked to reducing homocysteine levels, which might help reduce the risk of heart disease.
    • The recommended amount for adults is 400 mcg per day.
  • Chondroitin and Glucosamine: Glucosamine (an amino sugar) and chondroitin sulfate (a complex carbohydrate) are natural substances found in and around the cells of cartilage. Research has found taking these supplements have assisted people with osteoarthritis pain.  
    • For moderate-to-severe osteoarthritis pain relief the recommended doses are 1500 mg glucosamine combined with 1200 mg chondroitin sulfate supplements.
  • Antioxidants and Zinc: Research has demonstrated a combination of antioxidants and zinc in a dietary supplement reduced the risk of advanced age-related macular degeneration. The formula used in the study was:
    • 500 mg of vitamin C
    • 400 IU of vitamin E
    • 15 mg of beta-carotene
    • 80 mg of zinc as zinc oxide
    • 2 mg of copper as cupric oxide
  • Probiotics: Foods like yogurt and fermented foods naturally contain bacteria called probiotics. These bacteria are similar to the friendly bacteria normally found in your digestive system. Probiotics are also available as dietary supplements and have been found to be beneficial in gut-related issues and digestion.

 

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