In this day and age, most of us find ourselves failing to take in the recommended daily amount of nutrients that we should be getting. Nutritional supplements help to fill this gap by providing the vitamins, minerals, and other substances that we may be missing out on. In addition, personal food preferences, lifestyle habits, or special health needs may prompt a person to take nutritional supplements in order to remain in the pink of health.
It’s a common practice among cultures of different countries to give multivitamins or other supplements to their children (many grown-ups nowadays still wrinkle their noses at the memory of cod liver oil). Giving vitamins and minerals to children is a good idea more than ever today, simply because of the types of food many of them eat — fast food, junk food, food that is full of empty calories and which do not provide them with the nutrition they need to develop properly. In addition to the basic vitamins and minerals, many children’s supplements today include ingredients that would enhance growth, such as chlorella growth factor (for height) and taurine (for proper physical development).
Adults who partake of similarly nutritionally-deficient food also need to take a dietary supplement. Eating convenience scorpion exercise foods like take-out or microwave dinners is fine once in a while if you’re pressed for time, but not always. A person should remember that being nutritionally deficient will make him or her more prone to a variety of diseases.
Sometimes our food or drink choices influence the degree to which we need nutritional supplements. For instance, vegetarians forego a significant source of protein and iron — meat — and they do not get the necessary amounts of these nutrients in vegetables; so protein and iron supplements are suitable for them. Those who avoid dairy products, on the other hand, whether because of lactose intolerance or a general dislike for this type of food in general, should make sure to take a calcium supplement to correct any calcium deficiencies. Smokers and alcoholic beverage drinkers need a greater supply of vitamins B and C since they find it harder to absorb these nutrients. Those on a weight loss diet should use supplements to ensure that their nutritional needs are being met even as they eliminate or reduce the amount of certain foods in their diet. And women who are pregnant are advised to take supplements that contain ingredients beneficial to them and their babies, such as folic acid, vitamin D, iron, phosphorus, and calcium; women’s needs for them increase as much as twofold during pregnancy.
Nutritional supplements are also recommended for those who are at risk for a certain disease or health problem. For instance, people who are in their thirties and forties are advised to take calcium supplements to head off osteoporosis. Regular intake of vitamin C and B would help prevent scurvy and beriberi, respectively. Studies have also shown that vitamin C can aid in the prevention of eye disorders, such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Vitamin D, on the other hand, has been shown to have preventive effects against some cancers, including colon, prostate, and breast cancer, while some studies suggest that vitamin E is helpful in preventing colds and other upper respiratory tract infections.
Did you know that dietary supplements can also help a person psychologically and emotionally? At the American Psychiatric Association’s 2003 meeting, papers were presented on the effects of vitamin and mineral supplements on the mental state of young adults. For instance, study subjects in a prison population started exhibiting less anti-social behavior after going on a supplement regime. Another experiment showed that female college students had faster reaction times and less mood swings after taking a larger amount of thiamin or vitamin B1. Further, young adults who took selenium found themselves less depressed, anxious, and tired. Finally, a group of young female adults who were given the recommended amounts of nine vitamins exhibited improved cognitive functions after one year.
Nutritional supplements are an essential part of today’s diet for the vast majority of us. But remember that not all supplements are created equal. Offerings by other companies are pharmaceutical-grade; meaning that they have more active ingredients and that they underwent more rigorous quality control. Also keep in mind that taking although vitamins and minerals are more often than not safe and good for one’s health, taking too much of them could produce toxic effects and result in complications.