In this edition of our blog we will present 7 reasons why you should take a daily vitamin supplement. Many of you might think you don’t need one, but we are sure by the time you finish reading this you may begin to reconsider. So, let’s get straight to it!
Reason #1 – You know your diet has some nutritional holes in it
If you know that your eating habits are not as good as they should be, a daily supplement is a good alternative to bridge the nutritional gap. Nobody is casting judgement here as we all live very busy lives and preparing a complete nutritional meal can take time and effort that you may not have at that instant. You might also be a vegan, so your iron, vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acid intake may be slightly deficient since some of the best sources of these come from meat. A supplement can make up this deficiency.
Reason #2 – To promote healthy aging
As we age, a lot of factors conspire against us that makes feeling and looking our best ever more challenging. Amongst these are the fact that as we get older, our bodies require more nutrition, but at the same time, our digestive system become less efficient at absorbing nutrients from the food we eat. We have a scenario where there is increased nutritional demand and a diminished supply. In a store, that situation will drive up the cost of goods. In our body, that cost is the effort required to maintain our well-being, and a daily supplement can help balance the nutritional supply and demand equation and help us maintain proper nutritional levels as we get older.
Reason #3 – You are pregnant or trying to conceive
If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, your nutritional needs will increase. The general rule of thumb is to not change your food consumption at all during the first trimester, then increase your caloric intake to by 340 kcal/day in the second trimester and then by 450 kcal/day in the third trimester (these are rough guidelines and depend upon age, BMI and activity level). These calories should come from a healthy nutritional diet. The real importance of a dietary supplement is to ensure your folic acid levels are at sufficient levels. Folic acid has been found to decrease the likelihood of infants developing brain and spinal cord defects during pregnancy. Defects such as these are most likely to occur during the first 28 days after conception, in other words, during the period where you may yet not actually realize you are pregnant. This is a very important reason why you should ensure your folic acid intake is sufficient before and after conception, and supplementation is an excellent way to ensure this.
Reason #4 – Chronic conditions that can affect the digestive system.
Age is not the only culprit that can impair our digestive systems ability to absorb nutrients from our food. Certain chronic conditions can do so as well. Examples include Crohn's disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Ulcerative Colitis, Cancer, Diabetes, Pancreatitis and HIV. And it is not just the condition itself. The medications used to treat some of these diseases can also impact the ability of the digestive system to absorb nutrients. A daily supplement could be quite beneficial for those of you who are unfortunately suffering from these types of conditions.
Reason #5 – We can quickly become depleted in the water-soluble vitamins
If you have visited our ingredients section, we discuss how some vitamins are water soluble while others are fat soluble. Another way of looking at this is by saying that when we have ingested an excess of fat-soluble vitamins, they can be stored in our fatty tissue until required. An excess of water-soluble vitamins just travels through our system and eventually winds up in the toilet. Water soluble vitamins include the B vitamins and vitamin C, so to maintain adequate levels of these, supplementation can be helpful.
Reason #6 – I’m a fitness freak
Our bodies are already tasked with an incomprehensible number of jobs all required to maintain our health. When we engage in fitness activities, we ask our body to do even more. In order to complete this mission, it consumes those vitamins and minerals we have stored in our body (see Reason #5), and these must be replenished to maintain lean muscle tissue and provide energy. This is why nutrition (diet and supplementation) is an important component of an athlete’s success, and if you lead a very active lifestyle, it can be part of yours too.
Reason #7 – Our food is not as nutritious as it once was…
Fertile soil is crucial for the ability of a plant to form the vitamins necessary for our health. But through the continued use of synthetic fertilizers, modern industrial farming techniques, genetically modified (GMO) seeds, and pesticides, the mineral level in soils has dropped substantially over the years, depleting our agriculture of their essential nutrients. In fact, a study found that the nutritional levels of protein, riboflavin, ascorbic acid, calcium, phosphorus and iron in 43 fruits and vegetables showed a significant reduction (ranging from 6 to 38%) in their 1999 levels compared to 1950 levels. With such declining nutrient levels available to us in our foods, supplementation can be used to bridge that gap.
Of course there are far more than 7 reasons why you should take a daily supplement. There is ample evidence they can maintain eye health. They may help you maintain energy levels, improve your ability to combat the effects of stress, give your immune system a boost and of course, improve the health of your hair, skin and nails!
Take away message
In this article we provided 7 reasons why you should take a daily supplement (and added a few more for good measure). It is important to self-analyze to see if you fit into any of these categories that suggest a supplement may be right for you and take care to not over-supplement. There is never any harm in consulting a nutritionist if you have specific questions.