Vitamins and Supplements: Health Fad or Healthy?
Your neighbor is raving about how much energy she has since starting a new vitamin, and magazines are filled with stories of Hollywood Stars making mineral supplements a part of their health regimen. Could you benefit from a vitamin or mineral supplement?
Health experts agree that it’s best to get most of your daily allowance of vitamins and minerals from whole foods, not a pill. However, there are some people who can benefit from a supplement.
It’s always best to consult your physician to determine if you can simply make some changes to your diet or if you’re a good candidate for a supplement.
Why Whole Foods Are Better
- The Fiber Effect – Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains provide fiber. Fiber can help prevent certain disease, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
- Multiple Nutrients – A variety of nutrients can be found in a single food. For example, an orange contains Vitamin C, calcium, and beta carotene.
- Cancer-Fighting Compounds – Many fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants and phytochemicals. These substances slow down cell and tissue damage and help offer protection from cancer and other diseases.
Who May Need Supplements
- Women who may become pregnant need 400 micrograms of folic acid per day. Many cereals and breads are fortified with folic acid, but it’s always wise to check your diet and make sure you are getting the required amount.
- Vegetarians or vegans can struggle to get enough iron and B12. Vegans also need to make sure they have a source of calcium.
- People with food allergies are often limited in the variety of foods they are able to eat. For example, if you are allergic to milk, you may need a calcium and vitamin D supplement.
- Older adults have a harder time absorbing nutrients. After the age of 50, the body’s ability to absorb vitamin B12 drops.
Talk To Your Doctor
If you fall into one of the categories above, talk to your doctor about which supplements and dosages might be right for you. Ask:
- Will the vitamin or mineral I’m considering interact with any of my current medications?
- What is the right dosage for me?
- Should I take the supplement temporarily, for a specific amount of time, or should this be a long-term part of my daily routine?
- Are there potential side effects?
If you’re looking for primary care physician who is able to help you evaluate your nutrition needs, schedule an appointment with a member of the LeBauer primary care team. We offer easy online appointment scheduling.