Taking vitamins has become a daily habit for many people. Whether or not this added nutrition is necessary has been fiercely debated by scientists and medical professionals for many years. Some argue that if a balanced diet is eaten, then vitamin supplements are unnecessary. Others insist that it’s impossible to get all the nutrients needed from a modern diet, no matter how careful you are. It is true that modern farming practices result in fruits and vegetables that may not be as vitamin and mineral rich as previous generations of plants. The same holds true for modern meats; levels of iron and magnesium in meat have dropped considerably in the last 60 years. Even milk and cheese contain less calcium, magnesium and iron than they did before World War 2.
Because of these changes in our foods, it may benefit everyone to take vitamin and mineral supplements. The trick is to know which supplements are necessary and which may just be a waste of money. Here are a few supplements that you may want to consider taking.
Taking a daily multivitamin is a good idea to ensure that you’re meeting all your nutritional requirements. Many multivitamins are now formulated to meet the needs of specific age groups and genders. Whole food formulas may be more easily assimilated by the body. When the supplements are not from a whole food source, look for USP verification, which ensures the vitamins purity, potency and quality.
Folic acid is a necessary nutrient for everyone, but especially for women who may become pregnant. Adequate folic acid intake can prevent some types of birth defects, including spinal bifida. Women of childbearing years should be taking at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily. Pregnant women need 600 micrograms and breast feeding women 500 micrograms.
Many multivitamin formulas do not contain enough calcium to meet nutritional needs. If your diet is lacking in this vital mineral, consider adding a calcium supplement to your daily vitamin regimen. Calcium is a necessary nutrient in many body processes, including bone health. The National Osteoporosis foundation recommends daily calcium intake levels of 1,300 milligrams (from ages 9 to 18), 1,000 milligrams (from ages 18 to 50) and 1,500 milligrams (over the age of 50).
Vitamin D is often added to calcium supplements. This is because the body needs a sufficient amount of vitamin D to be able to absorb calcium. Although vitamin D is readily available through sunshine, the majority of the population north of Alabama doesn’t get enough sun throughout the year to meet vitamin D requirements.
Vitamin D is actually not a vitamin at all, but rather a hormone. It is not only important to bone health it is may also protect against cancer, high blood pressure and autoimmune disease. The recommended daily allowance for adults is 400 international units. Some researchers feel the recommended level is inadequate to ensure optimal health, and should be raised to at least 1,000 IU daily.