Do we REALLY Need Vitamin Supplements?
Recently, the media have been on one of their usual kicks that will further confuse and misinform the public regarding nutrition and health. This time the pendulum has swung over to the "anti-vitamin" side.
Reports that the public are becoming less and less convinced that vitamin and mineral supplements are necessary and are cutting back have been splashed across pages and reported in the news.
So is there any evidence that we need these supplements? After all, most dieticians tell us that you can and should get all of your nutrition from food!
...but what is the other side of the argument?
Well, first of all, some studies show that the majority of dieticians actually take supplements. Also, the majority of doctors take supplements. Also, the majority of doctors advise pregnant women to take folate and often iron supplements. In many Western countries, folate is added to bread, vitamin D is added to milk and iodine added to salt.
Zinc supplementation is now well accepted as an aid to fertility. Most of the world's experts on the topic believe that vitamin D deficiency is becoming epidemic in many countries. Many young girls (and other women) don't get enough iron and unacceptably high rates of anaemia are reported in most Western countries. Osteoporosis and hip fracture rates are soaring partly due to inadequate calcium (and vitamin D) intakes.
I could go on and on but considering the above information, it doesn't sound to me like most people are getting everything they need in their diets (note understatement)! Clearly, health professionals believe that adding vitamins and minerals to common foods and recommending supplements is the responsible thing to do.
Research on adding a multivitamin/mineral to the diet has not been conclusive but I'd love to see a scientific study on a sophisticated multivitamin like Reflex Nexgen+, which contains a superior source of Vitamin E, high levels of Vitamin D, CoQ10, Selenium, Chromium, Boron, Green Tea, Grapeseed Extract, Quercetin, Choline, Inositol, Lycopene, Luetin and other ingredients that have been shown to help the body to avoid disease and deficiency. Other quality multis also contain more than just basic forms of vitamins and minerals and would be expected to have enhanced benefits beyond a typical run-of-the-mill multi also.
So to address the question 'do we really need supplements'...perhaps not...if I put together the "ideal" diet from scratch, then adding a vitamin and mineral supplement might not be of much use because I could ensure that all of the beneficial nutrients mentioned above (and more) would be included in the diet...but most people wouldn't want to eat this way. You'd be eating a dozen servings of fruits and vegetables, green tea, exotic berries, etc. every day and it would take quite a while to prepare and may be difficult to transport along with you.
Nutritionist and Supplement Specialist
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