The old adage, “food is fuel” is actually pretty accurate. The food we consume contains nutrients that give our bodies the “fuel” it needs to drive all kinds of bodily functions. This includes vitamins and minerals.
Linda Bailey, a family nurse practitioner at Evernorth Care Group says that vitamins and minerals “are widely noted to be the ‘building blocks’ of a healthy life.”
Elise Heeney, a clinical dietitian at Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center says, “The best way to obtain all the vitamins and minerals our bodies need is by eating a diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products. Aim for a well-balanced plate at each meal.”
Sometime people are not able to get enough of these nutrients through diet alone. This is where dietary supplements come into play. These supplements can help your body restore vitamins and minerals to ideal levels. Harvard Health says some common deficiencies include:
What is considered a dietary supplement?
When diet alone isn’t enough to get to optimal nutritional levels, dietary supplements are vitamins or minerals you can take to help your body achieve the right balance.
“Supplements are intended to supplement the diet and shouldn’t take the place of eating healthful foods. They are also not intended to treat, cure or prevent diseases. If you suspect you may have a deficiency, consider asking your healthcare provider about testing for nutrient deficiencies before starting any supplements,” Heeney said.
What does a dietary supplement do?
Dietary supplements treat deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals. You may be at a higher risk for nutritional deficiencies if you have certain medical conditions, take certain medications, or are pregnant.
Heeney warns that supplements are not benign, and they should be chosen and that people should consult their health care provider before taking them.
“It’s important to keep in mind that high doses of certain vitamins could lead to toxicity and associated side effects or could impair the absorption of other nutrients. For example, high calcium-containing foods or supplements can decrease the absorption of iron. Certain supplements may interfere with the medications you take. For example, vitamin K can reduce the effectiveness of the blood thinner Warfarin. Certain antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E can reduce the effectiveness of certain cancer treatments. If you are having surgery, be sure to tell your doctor about any supplements you are taking. Some supplements can increase your risk of bleeding,” Heeney said.
What other lifestyle choices can you make to help nutritional levels?
Sometimes we can get vitamins through other means than diet or supplements. The biggest example is Vitamin D, which you can absorb just by being outside.
Bailey says, “Other lifestyle choices to assist us with adequate intake of vitamins and minerals besides our nutrition include regular physical activity, adequate amount of good quality restorative sleep, being involved in social connections, stress management, and what I call Vitamin Blue and Vitamin Green (getting outside in nature, seeing the sky, breathing fresh air, seeing some water).”
Learn more about your vitamins, health:
More:What do minerals do for the body? Calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and what to know.
More:What does vitamin A do? Plus which foods you should eat to get more.
More:Many people take daily vitamins. What they should know first.
More:What is the healthiest fruit? This one is high in antioxidants and has cognitive and cardiovascular benefits.