There’s a huge range of choices, and it’s hard to fight that little voice you’ve heard that says if you eat three balanced meals a day, you’re already getting all the vitamins and minerals you require. The problem is, most of us don’t eat a healthy diet. We spend long hours at work, have family commitments, other things we have to do, maybe throw in some time for fun – and it seems like planning and preparing a healthy meal just doesn’t happen.
The truth is, a good nutritional intake is always a better option than taking supplements. Fresh foods are full of vitamins and minerals, and they’re easily absorbed into the body. Eating plenty of calcium, proteins, fats, fiber and carbohydrates, sourced from a variety of healthy foods, is definitely the best option. But as most of us already know we’re falling short in that department, or perhaps we specifically want to address a health concern, taking vitamin supplements can be a good choice to make.
Many foods are enhanced with extra vitamins and minerals today. The packaging of breads, pastas and cereals generally contains nutritional information, including the recommended daily allowance of the various vitamins and minerals contained in the food, and what percentage of that is contained in a standard serving. As an example, let’s take calcium. Women in particular need to make sure they get their recommended daily allowance of calcium, partially for good health now, but also to avoid osteoporosis in later life. It’s recommended women consume between 1200-1500mcg of calcium each day. This should come from a variety of sources, including cheese, milk, yogurt, ice cream (yum!) and if required, supplements. Most supplements only contain around 30-50% of the daily calcium requirement, so you do still need to source it from other foods.
Another interesting example is Vitamin D. When you’re out in the sun, you absorb Vitamin D though your skin. That’s pretty simple, but the problem is that most of us don’t spend enough time outdoors every day. It can be difficult if you live a long way north, where days can be very short, or in a hot climate where damage from the sun’s rays is a major concern. That’s when a Vitamin D supplement can be beneficial.
It’s not as simple as just grabbing a bunch of supplements off the shelf and hoping that will do the trick. You need to understand what vitamins and minerals your body needs, and determine whether or not you’re likely to be getting sufficient amounts from your current diet. Read up on what effect certain vitamin deficiencies can have on your health, and methods for identifying a possible deficiency. Lots of information is available on the Internet, but it’s also good to visit your local health shop, or consult a nutritionist or naturopath. Take the time to improve your intake of vitamins and minerals, and you’ll be glad you did.