Which of these supplements is for today?
Do you know what food supplements are? I know you’ve heard this often enough. You might even be using them. But what are they, really? And do you need them?
To give you a better understanding of the word “supplement” requires understanding the meaning of the word.
A supplement is “something that completes or enhance something else when added to it.”
A food supplement, therefore, is something you add to your diet to complete or enhance your daily nutritional intake.
It follows, therefore, that if you have a balanced diet, and your food intake gives you all the vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy and fit, you don’t need them, right?
Theoretically, yes! But the real world says otherwise. In fact, studies show that almost half of people aged 65 and above daily take vitamins and minerals. “That,” according to Donald B. McCormick, Ph.D., professor Emeritus of biochemistry at Emory University, “is a lot of money wasted…”
He insists that nothing can make you healthy and fit, or slow down the aging process, better than improving your diet and there has never been any scientific data to prove that supplements can do a better job.
In fact, he says that in some cases supplements can be harmful to your physical and mental health.
When are food supplements necessary?
Aging causes a lot of physiological changes such as deterioration of sense or smell or taste, or sleeping problems All these can affect your appetite.
It can also bring some health issues which can affect your daily nutritional intake. Issues like arthritis, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, etc., limit your food choices, thereby affecting your daily vitamin and mineral needs.
In cases like these, food supplements become necessary to:
o Augment your nutritional needs for lack of fruits and vegetables in your diet;
o Neutralize the effects of eating too much processed or junk foods; foods;
o Improve the body’s absorption capability which could be affected by medication;
o Enhance your diet which could be affected by food restrictions due to health issues.
All these, however, should be under the supervision of your doctor or nutritionist.
Food supplements are not as harmless as they seem. Too much or too little, or the wrong kind can do more harm than good.
What food supplements are good for you?
To get the maximum benefits of your food supplements, take those that your body needs, not what a website or a salesperson says.
As you get older your body calorie requirements become lesser, and your body’s capability to absorb all the nutrients from the food you eat deteriorates. It is important, therefore, to use supplements your body needs, not what you want.
Here are most important:
o Vitamin B12:
Vitamin B12 is important in creating red blood cells, DNA, and maintaining healthy nerve functions.
You may have problems in getting B12 from your diet, no matter how laden they are with this vitamin because of absorption problems.
o Folate/Folic Acid:
This is vitamin B9 and is good anemic people because it aids in the formation of red and white blood cells in the bone marrow, converts carbohydrates into energy and helps in the production of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid, which is good for brain health), and RNA (ribonucleic acid, which is good for catalyzing amino acids into protein chains).
Calcium is a mineral that plays important roles in the body. But its most significant role is in the building and maintaining strong bones. Without it, you will experience bone embrittlement or osteoporosis.
Sadly, as people grow old they consume less calcium, making it necessary for you to take food supplements to compensate this shortfall.
o Vitamin D:
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, maintain bone density, and prevents osteoporosis. It is also good against chronic diseases like cancer, type 1 diabetes, rheumatism, multiple sclerosis, and autoimmune diseases.
The good news is that you can get ample supply of this vitamin by staying a few hours under the sun each morning.
Potassium is a mineral, like calcium that helps keep your bones strong. It is essential for proper cell functioning of the body and can reduce high blood pressure and the risk of kidney stones.
Magnesium, another mineral, is necessary to keep your immune system in top shape, improves your heart health and strong bones.
Found in vegetables, fruits, and cereals, fiber promotes healthy digestion, reduces the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease.
o Omega 3 Fats:
Omega-3 fats are a group of unsaturated fats, primarily found in fish, with multiple health benefits. Among them is that is can alleviate arthritic pains and slow down the progress of macular degeneration – a common eye disease among seniors.
Nutritionists and health professionals all agree that a well-balanced diet can provide your daily nutritional requirements of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals and sufficient water to maintain good health.
Aging, however, can affect your ability to absorb all these no matter how good your diet is. That’s why they recommend the use of food supplements when necessary.
When can food supplements be harmful?
Food supplements are meant to enhance or augment your diet to compensate for any shortfall in your daily nutritional requirements.
They are not intended to treat a disease and can be harmful if you take them as a medicine for an illness.
They may alleviate some pains, or make you resistant against some illnesses, but they cannot cure an existing one.
There is no all-in-one kind of food supplement. Regardless what the brochure says, or its website, or sales people, they are tailored to fit into specific gaps in your diet.
You do yourself more harm than good if you will.
Therefore, it is necessary to consult your nutritionist or doctor who can advise what is best for you. Deciding based on the inputs from others can harmful in the long run.
Do your homework. Food supplements is an open market. Anybody with a basic knowledge of chemistry can make them even in a kitchen.
So be sure to buy your food supplements from suppliers or manufacturers who have a name and reputation to protect. They may cost a few cents more, but that is a fair price to pay than putting your health in harm’s way.
Besides, food supplements are not on the radar of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) unless complaints are filed against a specific brand. Don’t be the first to file such complaint. You know where it will lead to.
Except for Kirkland’s Mature Multi, I take no food supplements. I believe lots of exercises, fruits, and vegetables are more fun to live my life than popping in tasteless and expensive pills.
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