23 Reasons you may need Vitamin and Herbal Supplements
Research carried out over the last few decades has shown that many chronic diseases in the world are nutrition related.
Many people believe that eating a well balanced diet provides all the necessary vitamins for good health. In ideal circumstances this is the case, but in reality there are many reasons why you may need vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements to help your body cope with today's living environment.
Some of the reason for the necessity to take dietary supplements can be attributed to;
- unhealthy diet
- poor lifestyle choices
- soil depletion from over-worked lands
Many of us, even those who feel that they eat well, do not eat a balanced diet. On average almost 40% of the calories we consume come from highly processed convenience or snack foods which are rich in fat and refined sugar. These foods contain few of the vitamins and minerals we need.
In fact, as the body processes certain 'junk' foods, important nutrients are lost, and must be replaced from other sources. No supplement can be used as a substitute for a good diet - yet a good diet is not always enough. Environmental and lifestyle stresses can sometimes increase the need for essential nutrients to a higher level than can be obtained from the diet.
Some factors that contribute to nutrient depletion are:
- strenuous exercise
- tea, coffee and cola drinks
- processed foods
- prescription drugs
- oral contraceptives
- poor digestion
- food additives
For many people today nutritional care, and health supplements are an integral part of total health care and preventative medicine.
Long term nutrient depletion can adversely affect health and vitality, and also contribute to serious degenerative diseases.
Every bodily function depends on energy producing chemical reactions in the cells. Without adequate vitamins and minerals as well as essential proteins, carbohydrates and fatty acids, energy and vitality is reduced, and illness may occur.
In fact without proper nutrients, the body is unable to continue the biochemical and metabolic processes which produce cellular energy.
Pollution, dietary habits and lifestyle factors make it difficult to receive all the nutrients you need from food alone. Therefore most health practitioners these days recommend that at the very least a multi vitamin and mineral formula should be included in everyone's diet, to ensure valuable nutrients are not missed. Ideally this should contain ample amounts of Antioxidants, B Vitamins, Vitamin C, Beta-Carotene, and Minerals in specific ratios.
Read on to find out the 23 reasons why you may need to supplement your diet.
You can complete a completely confidential free health assessment here. For your convenience this link is also available at the foot of this page.
1. Do you have poor digestion. Even when your food intake is good, inefficient digestion can limit your body's uptake of vitamins. Some common causes of inefficient digestion are not chewing well enough and eating too fast. Both of these result in larger then normal food particle size, too large to allow the complete action of digestive enzymes. Many people with dentures are unable to chew as efficiently as those with a full set of original teeth. Digestion also becomes less efficient with age.
2. Do you drink tea, coffee or chocolate products. When people have these products, inositol and biotin, which are both recognised as part of the B complex vitamins, may become deficient in the body. Being deficient in these prevents iron from being properly used, and causes other vitamins to be pumped through and out of the body before they can be properly absorbed. Tannin and caffeine in these products acts like a magnet and binds with minerals and vitamins and eliminates these from the body. Ideally you should not have tea & coffee for up to 1 hour after a meal.
3. Alcohol can effect you. Drinking too much alcohol is known to damage the liver and pancreas, which are vital to digestion and metabolism. It can also damage the lining of the intestinal tract and adversely affect the absorption of nutrients. Regular heavy use of alcohol increases the body's need for the B group vitamins and vitamins C, as well as the minerals Zinc, magnesium and calcium. Alcohol affects availability, absorption and metabolism of nutrients.
4. Do you smoke. Smoking tobacco is also an irritant to the digestive tract and increases the metabolic requirements for vitamin C by at least 30mg per cigarette, over and above the typical requirement of a non smoker. Vitamin C is normally present in foods such as paw paw, oranges and capsicum, but it oxidises rapidly once these are cut, juiced, cooked or stored in direct sunlight. Vitamin C & A supplementation is essential.
5. Do you take laxatives. Overuse of laxatives can result in poor absorption of vitamins and minerals from food, by hastening the intestinal transit time. Most laxatives used to excess can cause large losses of minerals, such as potassium, sodium and magnesium.
6. Beware of fad diets. Bizarre diets that miss out on whole groups of foods can be seriously lacking in nutrients. Even the popular low fat diets, if taken to an extreme, can be deficient in vitamins A, D & E. Vegetarian diets, which exclude meat and other animal sources, must be very skilfully planned to avoid vitamin B12 deficiency, which may lead to anaemia.
7. Overcooking your food. Lengthy cooking and reheating of meat and vegetables can oxidise and destroy heat susceptible vitamins such as the B - group, C & E. Boiling vegetables leaches the water soluble vitamins B group and C, as well as many minerals. Eating raw fruit & vegetables is preferable, or light steaming. Some vitamins such as B6 can be destroyed by irradiation from microwaves.
8. Avoid food processing. Freezing food containing Vitamin E can significantly reduce its levels once defrosted. Foods containing vitamin E exposed to heat and air can turn rancid. Many common sources of vitamin E, such as bread and oils are nowadays highly processed, so that the vitamin E content is significantly reduced or missing totally, which increases storage life but can lower nutrient levels. Vitamin E is an Antioxidants which defensively inhibits oxidative damage to all tissues. Other vitamin losses from food processing include vitamin B1 and C.
9. Do you eat convenience foods. A diet overly dependant on highly refined carbohydrates, such as sugar, white flour and white rice places a greater demand on additional sources of B group vitamins to process these carbohydrates. An unbalanced diet contributes to such conditions as irritability, lethargy and sleep disorders.
10. Have you taken antibiotics. Although these can be valuable in fighting infections, they also kill off friendly bacteria in the gut, which would normally be producing B - group vitamins to be absorbed through the intestinal walls. Such deficiencies can result in a wide variety of nervous conditions. Although we do not recommend the use of Antibiotics (as there are natural antibiotics that work as effectively and without the side effects), If you choose to take antibiotics, especially a lengthy course of broad spectrum antibiotics, then it is advisable you also take a B-complex. (A high quality acidophilus supplement is vital as well)
11. Do you have food allergies. The omission of whole food groups from the diet, as in the case of dairy, wheat and gluten allergies, can result in the loss of significant dietary sources of nutrients, such as calcium, iron or the B vitamins.
12. Have you had a recent accidents or illness. Burns lead to a loss of protein and essential trace nutrients such as Vitamins and Minerals. Surgery increases the need for Zinc, Vitamin C & E and other nutrients involved in the cellular repair mechanism. The repair of broken bones will be retarded by an inadequate supply of Calcium and Vitamin C - supplying these promote rapid healing. The challenge of possible infection places high demands on the nutritional resources of Zinc, Magnesium and the Vitamins B5, B6 and Zinc.
13. Are you stressed. Chemical, physical and emotional stresses can increase the body's requirements for Vitamins B2, B5, B6 and C. Air pollution increases the requirements for Vitamin E. Also important are Calcium and Magnesium.
14. PMT. Research has shown that up to 60% of women suffering from symptoms of premenstrual tension, such as headaches, lethargy and depression can benefit from supplementation with vitamin B6.
15 Teenagers. Rapid growth spurts, such as in the teenage years, particularly in girls, places high demands on nutritional resources. The need for Calcium is at one of the highest of all times in their life. All vitamins and minerals are needed during this time in large quantities, but particularly vitamin A, C, calcium & iron.
16. Are you pregnant. Pregnancy creates higher then average demands for nutrients, to ensure healthy growth of the baby. The nutrients that increase in need during pregnancy are the B group, especially B1, B2, B3, B6, folic acid, B12, A, D, E and the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus.
17. Do you take oral contraceptives. These can decrease absorption of folic acid and increase the need for Vitamins B6, C, Zinc and riboflavin.
18. Are you a light eater. Some people eat very sparingly, even without weight reduction goals. This can cause a lack of vitamins and mineral stores, especially Calcium, iron and thiamine.
19. For the elderly... The aged have been shown to have a low intake of vitamins and minerals, especially iron, calcium and Zinc. Folic acid deficiencies are common in conjunction with a vitamin C deficiency. Fibre intake is often low. Causes of these may be due to inefficiency of the stomach to digest foods properly, chronic diseases and a lack of enzymes.
20. Lack of sunlight... Invalids, shift workers and people whose exposure to sunlight may be minimal, can suffer from insufficient amounts of vitamin D, which is required for calcium metabolism, without which rickets and osteoporosis (bone thinning) has been observed. UV Light is the stimulus to vitamin D formation in the skin. It is blocked by clouds, fog, smog, smoke, ordinary window glass, curtains and clothing.
21 Bio-individuality... Wide fluctuations in individual nutrient requirements, for vitamin and mineral intakes are common, particularly for those in high physical demand vocations, such as athletics and manual labour, taking into account body weight and physical type. Each person's body has a different absorption rate and ability.
22. Low body reserves. Although the body is able to store reserves of certain vitamins, such as A & E, Canadian autopsy data has shown that up to 30% of the population have reserves of Vitamin A so low as to be judged "at risk". Vitamin A is important to healthy skin, mucous membranes (including the sinus and lungs) and eyesight.
23. Athletes. Athletes consume large amounts of food and experience considerable stress. These factors affect their needs for B group vitamins, vitamin C and iron in particular. Tests on Australian Olympic athletes and A grade football players, for example, have shown wide ranging vitamin deficiencies.
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Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered. The information is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide medical advice to you. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.