Get the FAQs About Multivitamin Supplements

Everyone wants to supplement their diet to optimize their life, from more energy to the prevention of illness. But before you dive in and start buying up supplements, it is important to ask some key questions of your healthcare provider or dietician.

Will vitamin and mineral supplements give you energy?

No, they won’t. Receiving energy that your body needs to operate properly comes from calories. You won’t get calories from pills, only from the food you eat.

Is it possible to reduce stress with minerals and vitamins?

Not directly no. Eating well will help you cope with the stress of daily living, but popping vitamins and minerals will not unless your diet is deficient in a given nutrient. If you are not eating well, supplements will provide some missing nutrients which may offset some issues that arise from stress, but if you are stressed out, it is important to find out the reason for it and seek the advice of a health professional.

Should you take vitamin and mineral supplements to make sure that you get what you need, or give them to your kids when they don’t eat right?

You and your family should first try to get the nutrients you need by eating properly. Supplements do not provide the necessary fibre, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and calories, that food provides. Speak to your healthcare provider or dietician.

Who should consider taking a supplement?

There are some situations that may require a supplement. Again, before you conclude that you need a dietary supplement, speak with your healthcare provider or dietary professional.

Women who want to bear children: Women who are of childbearing age should take at least 400 ug (0.4 mg) of folic acid. This will prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida.

Pregnant women: Should be taking folic acid and iron.

Men and women over 50 years: Should take vitamin D and B12 supplements. A daily supplement of 400 IU of Vitamin D for both men and women is recommended.

Lactose intolerant: For those who drink less than 2 cups (500ml) of milk or fortified soy beverage daily need a vitamin D or calcium supplement.

Vegetarians or vegans: If you have planned your vegetarian or vegan diet properly, it will probably meet your nutritional needs. Vegans may need a source of vitamin B12, or a calcium and vitamin D supplement.

Medical conditions: For people with medical conditions, like osteoporosis or anemia, there may be a need for more supplementation. Also, those who have undergone surgery, an infection or are recovering from some other serious illness, may require more supplementation.

Restricted diets: For those who have food allergies, a poor appetite, or a very low-calorie diet, may need to supplement.

Smokers: If you smoke, you need more vitamin C, either in supplement form or from vitamin C-rich foods.

Can supplements be dangerous?

Individually, some supplements, if taken in large amounts, can reach dangerous levels. Examples would be vitamin A (if taken during pregnancy may cause birth defects) and vitamin D, selenium, iron, calcium, and niacin are all toxic if taken in large amounts. There are also some undesirable and unpleasant side effects (over 2000 mg of vitamin C can cause digestive system difficulties). There are also harmful side effects from large amounts of vitamin B6 and fluoride.

Can taking vitamin C, zinc or selenium supplements boost my immunity?

Nearly all nutrients can help the immune system. Although some research indicates that vitamin C, zinc, and selenium will boost your immune system, there is no solid evidence that increased amounts of these nutrients provide any additional protection than a healthy diet. It is always best to follow the advice of your healthcare provider.

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