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Who Needs Supplements?

Yes: Who really needs vitamin and mineral supplements? It's a very good question.

This section is designed to help you answer for yourself whether or not you need to take vitamin and mineral supplements. It sifts through the pros and cons of vitamin and mineral supplements and the facts and fallacies associated with nutrient supplements.

If you are anything like me you will often find that you don't eat the right food, will skip on meals when you are busy and sometimes drink coffee to help keep you going. This means that we are not getting our vitamin and mineral nutrients and we will need to help ourselves out with supplements.

In an ideal world where we would be able to eat whole foods that were able to deliver all of our vitamin and mineral nutrient needs we wouldn't need to take supplements. However we don't live in that ideal world.

Some of the things that contribute to our imperfect nutrient world are:

1. Our busy, stressful life styles which mean that we neglect our vitamin and mineral needs, and have to substitute fast convenient foods which are often low in the nutrients that we need.

2. The busy, stressful nature of our lifestyles means that we need more in the way of vitamin and minerals to deal with the chemicals (including free radicals) that our bodies produce.

3. Even when we have the time and energy to prepare foods that we would think should contain sufficient vitamins and minerals some of the nutrients have already disappeared from the foods. Fresh foods, such as fruit and vegetables, begin to lose their nutrient qualities as soon as they are picked at the farm. There can be long time between the picking and the appearance on our plate.

4. Our environment is full of many toxic chemicals such as air pollutants (cigarette smoke and car fumes), water pollutants, pesticides, herbicides, dust and pollens to suggest just a few. These all add to the needs of our bodies for vitamin and mineral nutrients.

5. Some people smoke cigarettes and drink too much alcohol. We don't get enough rest or sleep and drink too much tea and coffee. These also increase our vitamin and mineral needs.

6. We may already be suffering from the symptoms of minor or not so minor health deficiencies.

7. We may have extra vitamin and mineral demands being placed on our bodies because of pregnancy, child birth or nursing a baby.

8. We may be an athlete who wants to be sure that the body is performing at its most efficient level.

9. We may have particular dietary problems such as celiac or Crohn's disease or follow a particular diet such as vegetarianism. These may mean that you are unable to take in sufficient nutrients or have difficulty absorbing sufficient nutrients.

10. The soils on which many of our foods have been grown are themselves depleted of essential nutrients which means that even if we were able to eat sufficient whole foods we still might not get the nutrients we need.

11. Everyone has a different genetic make up. This means that some people need more of a particular nutrient than others. We are still only beginning to understand what this means in terms of our diet, but it does seem clear that some people actually need very large quantities of particular nutrients in order to stay healthy. They would find it very difficult to eat sufficient foods containing those nutrients and will need supplements to get what they need.

In effect if we can place a tick against any of the areas in the list above we would be advised to take vitamin and mineral supplements. In addition to the many factors listed above if we have any of the following diseases we will also benefit by taking vitamin and mineral supplements.

The list of factors is quite extensive and then to that list can be added anybody who is:

Who then needs to be taking vitamin and mineral supplements?


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Reality Check

The claim that anyone can get all the vitamins and minerals they need from their normal diet is commonly heard. If only it were true.

Who eats this idealized "normal" diet? The fact is, no one does. Even when highly motivated people take extra care and put in extra effort, the reality is that after a short period of time, bad dietary habits develop or return.

Someone might say that athletes in training do. Well, that's fine, I hope they do. But they don't sustain that for very long really and they generally are placing enormous demands on their body that still may not be met.

One problem is that the deficiencies sometimes take many years to reveal the damage they have caused. Whether presently obvious or not, the fact remains that it is impossible to achieve and sustain optimum health without excellent nutrition.

Without regular supplements of important components, such as vitamins and minerals, fullest enjoyment of life with optimised health simply won't be achieved.

The good news is that sound information and quality supplements are available. Make the most of them!