Should I Take a Supplement?

Health food stores are crammed with assorted supplements to boost your energy and strengthen your body. The array can be confounding. Here’s how to sort through the bottles and figure out what you should take.

From: 30 Minutes a Day to a Healthy Heart, Reader's Digest Canada

The Straight Answer

Conventional wisdom has long held that as long as people who are healthy eat well enough to avoid nutritional deficiencies, they do not need to supplement their diet. The only thing they have to do is consume a diet that meets the recommended dietary allowances of various nutrients.

Why You Might Consider It

But in today’s fast-paced world, some people find it difficult to meet those nutritional requirements. In a recent survey, only 36 per cent of Canadians said they ate five daily servings of fruits and vegetables—the amount recommended for obtaining the minimum level of nutrients believed necessary to prevent illness. A recent Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation report revealed that only 14 per cent of children have four or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables, although 98 per cent knew that five to ten is good for the heart.

Supplements are not a substitute for healthy living. The best way for Canadians to improve their diets is to increase fruit and vegetable intake. The best nutrition comes from the interactions of the thousands of nutrients found in fruits and vegetables. If you want to analyze your diet, ask your doctor to recommend a dietitian to consult.

 A Simple Solution: Multivitamins

Is taking a daily multivitamin a good way to ensure you get these essential nutrients?

A number of leading medical practitioners have advocated this approach; however, not everyone is convinced. Most health experts continue to emphasize the importance of a healthy diet.

How Multivitamins Work

The B vitamins may reduce homocysteine levels according to some researchers. However, the evidence for this is inconclusive. Homocysteine, an amino acid produced when your body breaks down protein, is an emerging risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Your body needs the “three Bs”—vitamins B6 and B12 and folate (or folic acid, the supplement form)—to convert homocysteine into a form that cells can use to build new proteins. Otherwise, homocysteine levels rise and so does heart risk. As we age, our bodies absorb less of the B vitamins in food, but luckily, those in supplements are well absorbed.

They also provide protective vitamin D. Among other duties, vitamin D helps the body to absorb and retain calcium, which is important for healthy blood pressure. It may also guard against the buildup of artery-hardening calcium deposits, and research from Belgium suggests that it reduces inflammation. Your body produces vitamin D naturally when exposed to sunshine, but if you don’t go out in the sun or live in a northern climate, you may not get enough sun exposure to make enough of the vitamin.

Best Kind to Buy

Not necessarily the most expensive multivitamin—plenty of brands offer the same complete range of vitamins and minerals, at the right doses, for far less money. Shop carefully.

Find more about: supplement | vitamin | vitamin d | multivitamin
No votes yet

Recent Features

  • 10 Ways to Look 10 Years Younger>>

    Why look your age when you can look so much younger?  With these few simple tips, you’ll not only improve your appearance, but feel better too.>>

  • 3 Perspectives on Living with ADHD>>

    A growing number of Canadian men, women and children are living with ADHD. Here are three stories on a misunderstood disorder.>>

  • 8 Safety Tips for Winter Driving>>

    When hitting the road during the holiday season, chances are you’ll drive into adverse weather conditions. Here’s how to navigate through the snow and ice safely.>>

  • 8 Ways to Ward Off the Winter Blues>>

    Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) has many people feeling down in the winter months when sunlight is in short supply. Symptoms include feelings of sadness, low energy, cravings for sugar and starch, and weight gain. Here are eight ways to help lift your spirits.>>

  • 7 Ways to Lower Your Sugar Intake>>

    Sugar: it seems to be in just about everything and while it does taste nice and please your sweet tooth, you're health might be begging for a little less. Here are 7 ways to lower your sugar intake while still enjoying your favourite treats.>>

  • 13 People With Cool Jobs Answer Your Questions>>

    People flock to Reddit's "Ask Me Anything" board to quiz everyday people on their cool jobs, like what it's like to be a Disney cast member, a sports bettor, or a metalcore vocalist.>>

  • 7 Mind Tricks You Didn't Know You Fell For>>

    Your thoughts and behavior are surprisingly affected by seemingly unconnected ways because of the mind tricks going on in your brain, argues psychologist Adam Alter in his recent book Drunk Tank Pink.>>

  • 5 Ways To Be Productive At Work>>

    Multi-tasking is handy for simple or uncomplicated tasks, but time management is the key concept when it comes to increasing productivity. You'll be amazed at how much time you can save.>>

  • Skin Safety: How Well Do You Know Your Skin?>>

    What do you know about skin safety? With the summer heat just around the corner, take our quiz and find out!>>

  • 20 Ways To Get Energized This Spring>>

    Need a boost? Here are 20 ways to have more energy for life.>>

  • 6 Eating Habits That Improve Your Sex Life>>

    A healthier body AND an improved sex life? It's possible, and not that complicated. Discover secrets the science of good nutrition holds for improving your sex drive.>>

  • 6 Spring Allergens You Didn't Know>>

    Don’t let spring allergies sneak up on you. Avoid these little-known triggers and skip some of the painful congestion of allergies.>>

  • 11 Ways to Allergy-Proof Your Home>>

    Home, sweet, home may be full of sneezes and sniffles if you don’t take some precautions during spring allergy season. Here are 11 surefire solutions to keep allergies at bay.>>

  • 10 Tips for Managing Your Stress>>

    Has work or your home life got you frazzled? Reduce your load and relax with these simple stress-reduction strategies.>>

  • 6 Ways to Relieve Morning Sickness>>

    Use these calming, soothing, anti-nausea strategies to settle your stomach when it feels like it's riding a rollercoaster.>>

Your Comments