Supplements can be used to fill in nutritional deficiencies. The modern lifestyle cannot provide everything we need for a healthy body. While it’s best to get your vitamins and minerals from a balanced diet, a supplement can give your body a boost.
“Vitamins play background roles in our bodies,” says Kate Patton, MEd, RD, CCSD, LD. “We need vitamins to break down macronutrients like carbohydrates, fat and protein and help the body function. People might take supplements if they know they’re missing a certain food group. Others might take supplements for the antioxidant benefits or because they know they don’t eat fruits and vegetables. Some people may have a true deficiency.”
What supplements should you take daily?
It is estimated that about half of American adults take some type of vitamin or mineral supplement.
“People might take supplements if they know they’re missing a certain food group,” says registered dietitian Kate Patton, MEd, RD, CCSD, LD. “Others might take supplements for the antioxidant benefits or because they know they don’t eat fruits and vegetables. Some people may have a true deficiency.”
You might need supplements especially if you: have a restricted or limited diet, are older than 50, have digestive issues, or have genetic or health conditions that makes it difficult to absorb nutrients from your food.
How many supplements should you be taking daily?
Everyone’s vitamin needs are different, so you should talk to your doctor or registered dietitian before starting to take supplements.
Dr Oz. recommends to follow this rule of thumb: avoid taking more than 5 different supplements per day, to prevent possible pill interactions. So make sure to talk to your doctor before taking supplements, especially if you’re taking ongoing medication.
Here are the vitamins and minerals you should consider taking:
Multivitamins are a good way to fix a nutritional deficiency, if you’re feeling energy-depleted.
The typical multivitamin has about 10 vitamins and 10 minerals including vitamins A, C, D, E, K and minerals such as potassium and zinc.
Vitamin A stimulates the production and activity of white blood cells, regulates cell growth and division, and supports eye health.
Vitamin C is probably the most important vitamin our bodies need.
“Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that functions as an antioxidant and boosts the immune system. Vitamin C is, of course, abundant in many fruits and vegetables, but prolonged storage and cooking diminish its content. Besides its well-known protective role against common colds, vitamin C has also been shown to have a significant and positive effect on blood vessels.”, says Kerem Bortecen, MD, an endovascular and interventional surgeon at NYC Surgical Associates.
Vitamin B12 has an important role in cell metabolism, red blood cell formation, nerve function and the production of DNA.
Vitamin B12 is usually found in animal products such as dairy, meat, and fish, so vegetarians can have nutritional gaps. “For vegetarians and vegans — you may be more at risk for having too little B12 in your diet,” says dietitian Mira llic, RD, LD. They can have a supplement or fortified foods.
Vitamin D is a key nutrient for maintaining healthy bones, muscle function, and offers immunity support. The body can only absorb calcium, the primary component of bone, when vitamin D is present.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant, helps fight free radicals, supports proper immune function and cellular signaling, may offer cardiovascular protection, may benefit skin health, and other benefits.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids / Fish Oil
Omega 3 fatty acids can enhance the brain functions, protect the heart and arteries, lubricate your joints, and offer skin protection.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in foods, such as nuits and seeds, plant oils (flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil), in dietary supplements (such as fish oil and seafood), and fortified foods (certain brands of eggs, yogurt, juices, milk, soy beverages).
Calcium is a mineral that is essential to healthy, strong bones. It’s found mostly in dairy foods, tofu and seafood.
Calcium is important especially for women, since more women than men are prone to develop osteoporosis – a condition of weak and fragile bones that makes you prone to fractures. Of the 10 million Americans with osteoporosis, 80 percent are women.
“If you need extra calcium, taking 500mg to 600mg of supplements per day is considered safe and effective”, says Professor Mark Cooper, an endocrinologist and Deputy Chair of the Medical and Scientific Committee at Healthy Bones Australia.
Some studies have reported a small increase in kidney stones among people taking calcium supplements, so proceed with care if you have existing kidney problems.
Iron supplements are especially important for non-meat eaters and those prone to anemia.
“For anybody who is vegetarian or vegan, they’re at risk for having an iron deficiency,” says registered dietitian Kate Patton, MEd, RD, CCSD, LD.. “While there are a lot of plant-based sources of iron, you just don’t absorb it as well. The amount of fiber in a vegetarian or vegan diet can block iron.”, continued Patton.
Magnesium is essential for healthy bones, muscles, and blood pressure, and helps support muscle and nerve function and energy production. It may be particularly helpful if you have muscle cramps or practice some kind of sport.