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BOOST: Supplements can replenish your body with nutrients.
Photo supplied BOOST: Supplements can replenish your body with nutrients.

The human body needs to be replenished every day with a variety of vitamins and minerals.

Conveniently, these nutrients are found in the foods we eat. A diet that includes vegetables and fruit, whole grain, lower fat dairy products, meat and alternatives will provide your body with all the vitamins and minerals it needs.

The problem is that many of us still don’t eat enough nutrient-rich foods, and we may not even realize it.

By taking note of the vitamins and nutrients your diet may be missing, you can adjust what you are eating, or enhance your diet with vitamin supplements.

Multivitamins

Taking a daily multivitamin is an easy way to be sure you are getting the vitamins and minerals you need. Many basic multivitamins contain the 13 essentials: A, C, D, E, K, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), pantothenic acid, biotin, B6, B12, and folate and minerals such as iron.

Brands include One-A-Day Women’s and Men’s multivitamins, Centrum and Centrum Silver, Seven Seas Multibionta and Nature’s Bounty ABC Plus.

Calcium and vitamin D

Although most people drink lots of milk as children, it’s a habit you may have grown out of as you became an adult.

As a result, many adults lack sufficient calcium in their diet. In fact, you may be losing calcium. This is because the body needs a certain blood calcium level to stay healthy.

When it drops below an acceptable level, the blood borrows it from the bones.

Calcium contributes to bone and teeth strength and density. It keeps you from developing bone problems like osteoporosis and osteopenia.

Some of the vitamin D you need comes from the food you eat, but most of it is made by your body after exposure to sun.

Vitamin D is important for calcium absorption and the two nutrients are often combined into one supplement. Viactiv, Caltrate and Citracal are popular brands that offer both nutrients.

Fish oil

You may think that adding fat to your diet is a weight loss disaster, but omega-3 fatty acids play a big part in keeping the body healthy.

They help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke as well as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.

Good, natural sources of Omega-3 fatty acids are found in coldwater fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, sturgeon and anchovies, as well as in flax, walnuts and pecans. You could also consider an Omega-3 supplement, such as fish oil or flaxseed oil.

Probiotics

Foods like yogurt and fermented foods naturally contain bacteria called probiotics. These bacteria are similar to the friendly bacteria normally found in your digestive system.

Probiotics are also available as dietary supplements and may be beneficial for people with irritable bowel syndrome and diarrhoea.

They are also useful to help restore the friendly bacteria in your digestive tract after a course of antibiotics.

Dietary supplement safety

In general, dietary supplements are safe. However, multivitamins and other supplements will not replace an unhealthy diet.

Focus on eating healthy first. Also, ‘more is better’ does not apply to vitamins.

Taking more than the recommended amount is ineffective and can even be harmful.

Speak with your physician or pharmacist to choose the right formulation of vitamins that will help you achieve the best health outcomes. Don’t forget to tell them about all the supplements and medications you take, to avoid any adverse reactions.

 

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. For more information visit Lindo’s at www.lindos.bm.