In the last few years we began to fully understand how important our food is for our health. Too bad we realized it only when the nutritional value of food we eat has significantly decreased. According to Food Commission in the UK, the level of iron in the average steak has declined by 55% and milk has lost 21% of its magnesium in the past 60 years. U.S. government has also collected data showing noticeable decrease of nutrients in fruits and vegetables compared to 50 years ago. What does it mean to us? It means we have to eat more to get the same amount of vitamins and minerals as our ancestors, or we have to get these nutrients from somewhere else.
Supplements are the next best choice when food doesn’t provide you with all you need. Apart from decreasing nutritional content of what we eat, there are also other reasons to consider getting vitamins and minerals from bottle.
First of all, in our modern world not everyone is eating the right variety of foods needed for optimal health. For example, some people may completely exclude fish from their everyday menu, or eat only 2 types of vegetables, which may lack certain vitamins. Small children can be particularly resistant to eat certain things that are important for their health.
Secondly, we are eating too many junk or highly-processed foods that not only have low levels of useful nutrients, but may also contain some harmful substances. The days of eating freshly harvested vegetables from your own plot have long gone for most of the people, and now our fridges are stocked with frozen, pre-cut, canned and marinated food, which is more convenient, but less nourishing.
Thirdly, some people require even more vitamins and minerals, due to very active lifestyle, weak immunity, high stress levels or intake of antibiotics, to ensure their bodies can cope. In these cases, nutrients coming from food may be really insufficient.
Providing us with essential nutrients, supplements are able to offer us multiple benefits. They can boost our immunity, reduce inflammations, improve our sleep and lower our chances of some diseases. Right amount of vitamins E and B, for example, can significantly decrease possibility of getting heart disease. Supplements can also treat already existing diseases, when the illness is caused by vitamin or mineral deficiency. Peripheral neuropathy, for example, is caused by lack of vitamin B-12 and is treated by B-12 supplements or injections.
Choosing the right supplement, however, is very individual. You may need to consult your doctor and do some research. But when you’ve decided what type of supplement you need, there are certain things you should look for to choose a good quality product.
1)Buy from a company that specializes in production of supplements, because it is more likely that they know what they are doing and that they test their products thoroughly.
2)Avoid supplements that have synthetic ingredients. Vitamins produced chemically may not be as safe and healthy as natural ones, and artificial colorants are useless for your body.
3)Choose multi-vitamin supplements, because some vitamins work better together and are either useless, or may destroy your general vitamin balance and cause health problems when taken individually.
4)Same goes for minerals: multi-mineral supplement will contain each mineral in small amount and will not cause toxic reaction.
5)Don’t forget that price doesn’t always signify quality. In case of supplements higher price may indicate higher number of active ingredients, not necessarily quality of nutrients.
In conclusion, remember that taking vitamin and mineral supplements doesn’t replace healthy diet and too much vitamins can be as harmful as none at all. Therefore, choose carefully and use responsibly.