The old adage, “food is fuel” is actually quite accurate. The foods we eat contain nutrients that give our bodies the “fuel” they need to perform all kinds of bodily functions. This includes vitamins and minerals.
Linda Bailey, Family Nurse Practitioner at Evernorth Care Group, says vitamins and minerals “are widely recognized as the ‘building blocks’ of healthy living”.
Elise Heeney, clinical dietitian at Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center, says, “The best way to get all the vitamins and minerals our bodies need is to eat a diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts. and seeds, lean proteins and low-fat dairy products. Aim for a well-balanced plate at every meal.
Sometimes people are not able to get enough of these nutrients from food alone. This is where dietary supplements come in. These supplements can help your body restore vitamins and minerals to ideal levels. Harvard Health says some common shortcomings include:
What is a dietary supplement?
When diet alone isn’t enough to achieve optimal nutritional levels, dietary supplements are vitamins or minerals you can take to help your body achieve the right balance.
“Supplements are intended for extra charge diet and should not replace the consumption of healthy foods. They are also not intended to treat, cure or prevent disease. If you think you have a deficiency, consider asking your healthcare provider to test for nutrient deficiencies before starting any supplement,” Heeney said.
What is a dietary supplement used for?
Dietary supplements treat deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals. You may be at higher risk for nutritional deficiencies if you have certain medical conditions, take certain medications, or are pregnant.
Heeney warns that supplements are not benign, they must be chosen, and people should consult their health care provider before taking them.
“It is important to keep in mind that high doses of certain vitamins can lead to toxicity and associated side effects or can interfere with the absorption of other nutrients. For example, foods or supplements high in calcium can decrease iron absorption.Some supplements can interfere with medications you are taking.For example, vitamin K can reduce the effectiveness of the blood thinner warfarin.Some antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E can reduce the effectiveness of some cancer treatments. If you’re having surgery, be sure to tell your doctor about all the supplements you’re taking. Some supplements may increase your risk of bleeding,” Heeney said.
What other lifestyle choices can you make to help nutrient levels?
Sometimes we can get vitamins through other means than food or supplements. The biggest example is vitamin D, which you can absorb just by being outdoors.
Bailey says, “In addition to our nutrition, other lifestyle choices to help us get enough vitamins and minerals include regular physical activity, getting enough good quality, restful sleep, involvement in social relationships, stress management and what I call the blue vitamin and vitamin. Green (going out into nature, seeing the sky, breathing fresh air, seeing water).
Learn more about your vitamins, your health:
More:What do minerals do for the body? Calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and what you need to know.
More:What is vitamin A used for? Plus, what foods you should eat to get more.
More:Many people take vitamins daily. What they need to know first.
More:What is the healthiest fruit? This one is rich in antioxidants and has cognitive and cardiovascular benefits.