Saturday, 21 May 2022

Dietary supplements-how much do you need them?

 


Dietary supplements have become astoundingly popular. Most people take a multivitamin and mineral pill for mistaken reasons, such as to make up for the dietary shortfalls, boost energy or build up a muscular physique. Other invalid reasons include the belief that extra vitamins and minerals will help cope with stress, the belief that supplements can build lean body tissue without physical work or enhance athletic performance and lastly, the desire to prevent, treat, or cure symptoms or diseases ranging from the common cold to cancer. On a fair note, supplementing is a costly but harmless practice and sometimes, it is both costly and harmful to the health.

As a healthy person, why take a supplement when you can get the nutrients you need from food? Supplements cannot substitute for a healthy diet; however, certain nutritional supplements may be desirable in certain situations.

The effects of these supplements when taken depend on several factors such as the level of nutrients already being absorbed from the diet, as well as factors that influence nutrient absorption and metabolism.

Reasons why nutrients should be consumed from foods rather than supplements

  • Foods rarely cause nutrient imbalances or toxicities, but supplements can. The higher the dose, the greater the risk of harm. People’s tolerances for high doses of nutrients vary, just as their risks of deficiencies do. The amounts tolerable to some may be harmful to others, and no one knows who falls where along the spectrum.

  • People who use, are more likely to have excessive intakes of certain nutrients—notably iron, vitamin A, niacin, and zinc. The toxicity level is often not recognized as the effects develop subtly and progress slowly.

  • Some dietary supplements are contaminated with pharmaceutical drugs, such as steroid hormones and stimulants. Other substances that have also shown up in a wide variety of dietary supplements include toxic heavy metals, bacteria, and toxic plant material.

  • Lastly, supplements are likely to interfere with one another’s absorption or with the absorption of other nutrients from foods eaten at the same time. For example, zinc hinders copper and calcium absorption, iron hinders zinc absorption, and calcium hinders magnesium and iron absorption. Among vitamins, vitamin C supplements enhance iron absorption, making iron overload likely in susceptible people.

Are there people who need supplements?

Yes, some people need supplements as some conditions such as illness, drug and/or alcohol addiction may limit food intake making them suffer from marginal nutrient deficiencies.  People who may benefit from nutrient supplements in amounts consistent with the RDA include:

  • Pregnant women and women of childbearing years require extra folic acid to help prevent birth defects.
  • Older adults, especially postmenopausal women, may take calcium and vitamin D. Vitamin D plays an important role in the absorption of calcium and in boosting bone health.

  • People over 50 may benefit from vitamin B12 supplements.

  • Young women with anaemia may benefit from iron supplements.

  • People on very restricted diets or with many allergies.
  • People who have diseases, infections, or injuries or who have undergone surgery that interferes with the intake, absorption, metabolism, or excretion of nutrients may need specific nutrient supplements.

  • Those at risk for age-related macular degeneration such as an eye problem may benefit from antioxidant and zinc supplements.

  • If you fall into any of these categories, ask your doctor about appropriate doses. In general, though, it’s best to get your vitamins and minerals from food rather than pills.

The kind of vitamin and mineral supplement to use when in need

  • If you are selecting a supplement yourself, a single, balanced vitamin-mineral supplement with no added extras such as herbs should serve. Choose the kind that provides all the nutrients in amounts less than, equal to, or very close to the Recommended Daily Allowance(RDA).
  • For women of childbearing age who need supplemental folate choose a supplement with just the needed nutrient or in combination with a reasonable dose of others.
  • Lastly, take your health care professional’s advice if it is offered.

 

 

Friday, 6 May 2022

Vitamin E

 


Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin and/or lipid-soluble antioxidant and plays a fundamental role in protecting the body against the damaging effects of oxidative stress formed in the environment. Like the other fat-soluble vitamins, its use depends on the presence of dietary fat. When deficient in this important vitamin, one is prone to impaired eyesight, infections, and some forms of skin diseases. Be it as it may, vitamin E is found in most of our food sources and one only becomes deficient except in cases of impaired absorption.

Benefits of vitamin E

  • Vitamin E inhibits processes related to the development of atherosclerosis and protects the body against free radicals and conditions related to oxidative stress such as ageing, arthritis, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, infection, and some cases of Alzheimer's disease.
  • It has antiproliferative effects in the eye that are seemingly protective against conditions

such as glaucoma. 

  • It protects red blood cell membranes from destruction, especially in the last 2 months of gestation.
  • It helps lessens the appearance of scars and deal with dry skin.

Rich sources

The richest sources of vitamin E are vegetable oils such as canola, soybean, safflower etc. Other food sources of vitamin E include nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts etc), seeds (pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds), and fortified cereals. It can also be found in fruits such as avocado, mango, blackberries, raspberries, and other types of berries.

PS: Because vitamin E is readily destroyed by heat processing and oxidation, fresh or

lightly processed foods are the best sources of this vitamin