There is significant amount of debate over what supplements work and as a consumer, it can be confusing sifting through all the information that is available. There is no doubt that it can be effective to fill nutritional gaps with supplementation – especially for those vitamins and minerals that are difficult to obtain in ideal amounts. The real issue is managing expectation of their effectiveness. Two major studies, for instance, found multivitamins were largely ineffective and don’t recommend regular supplementation1. Most of the micronutrients you get enough of in your diet (there can even be negative effects if you consume too much) and the nutrients that you should typically supplement aren’t in the optimal dose in a multivitamin. So, eating a poor diet and believing that a single pill will fill those gaps will only set you up for future health issues.
So what supplements should you take on a regular basis? This is entirely dependent on the individual but there are 2 particular vitamins that are very difficult to consume the ideal amount strictly from food.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a unique vitamin in that it can be made by the body from exposure to sunlight. However, this process depends on the time of day and year, geographical location, sunscreen use, and the amount of time you spend outdoors. For these reasons, most people need to rely on foods and supplements to meet their Vitamin D requirements. This is especially true for individuals living at Northern latitudes, including Newfoundland and Labrador. Vitamin D is involved in over a thousand different physiological processes in your body and plays a major role in overall wellbeing. There are limited food sources of vitamin D, so supplementation is often necessary for those without much direct sunlight exposure

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is an essential vitamin that supports healthy blood coagulation. Most individuals do get enough from their diet to support this function. Higher levels of vitamin K, however, provide benefits of cardiovascular health and bone health. Unfortunately, it is difficult to obtain high levels of vitamin K from food alone so supplementation is a popular option. It should be noted that there is ongoing research into the heart health benefits of vitamin K and what the optimal dose to achieve those benefits. Please consult an expert before starting any supplementation regimen.

Minerals are typically easier to obtain in your diet but many people can benefit from supplementing:

Zinc

Required for over 300 biochemical reactions, zinc is present in the body but in very small amounts. It plays a major role in keeping bones and teeth strong and healthy, building protein, normal muscle contraction, nerve impulse transmission, and keeping the immune system strong. Food sources include: nuts, legumes, wholegrains, dark green vegetables, seafood, chocolate, and cocoa.

Calcium

Calcium Is the most abundant mineral in the body and plays an important role in building and maintaining healthy bones and teeth, regulating muscle contractions, blood clotting, transmission of nerve impulses, secretion of hormones, and maintaining a healthy blood pressure. Food sources include: milk, yogurt, cheese, small fish with bones (such as canned sardines), tofu, legumes, almonds, and leafy green vegetables, such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, bok choy, and kale.

Consult an Expert

It’s important to remember that consuming a variety of healthy foods is the best and most effective way to obtain your nutrient requirements. For the most part, pills are no comparison to food. However, there are times when supplementation can be necessary, such as during pregnancy or certain illnesses, or as we age. There is also ongoing research into certain nutrients to help determine optimal intakes to support optimal health, so you may hear a variety of different recommendations as this research continues.

If you are wondering if supplements may be right for you, please contact your Definitions representative for more detailed and personalized advice. At Definitions, we believe in a balanced approach with reasonable and attainable goals based on science based methodologies.

References

  1. http://www.livescience.com/42001-case-is-closed-multivitamins-are-a-waste-of-money-doctors-say.html