But do these actually work and should everyone be taking a supplement of some description?
This is the question I commonly get asked and it is important that we know the answer to avoid potentially harming our bodies or at the very least, unnecessary spending.
Should everyone take supplements?
The general thought that anyone and everyone should take the same supplements is incorrect. Our bodies have different needs and some individuals may require extra support while others may get away without taking any supplements.
Also, the needs of our body may change depending on our stress levels and other lifestyle factors like pregnancy. Due to these situations we may need extra supplementation for only a period of time.
In an ideal world we would get all that we need from the food we eat. Choosing a wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables of different colours, wholegrains, lean animal products, eggs, beans and other legumes, as well as nuts and seeds, helps to ensure we are getting enough nutrients.
Unfortunately, our diets can be lacking in certain nutrients due to poor choices, lack of available fresh foods or access to fresh foods, and even due to poor soil quality, which compromises the vitamin and mineral content of the produce we eat.
I do encounter a number of common deficiencies in clinical practice including zinc, iodine, vitamin B12, magnesium, vitamin D, and iron.
Luckily these deficiencies can be detected by laboratory testing and are worth having tested. So aside from these I do not commonly prescribed vitamins or minerals unless clinically I can detect that someone is deficient in certain ones.
How much is too much?
Taking too many supplements may be harmful, especially if we are overdosing on large amounts of one particular vitamin or mineral which can overwhelm our liver or kidneys.
There is also some research to indicate that those who take regular vitamins and minerals may actually be worse off then those who don’t.
Before you start taking vitamins and minerals that you check with a health professional whether they are actually needed.