Our body needs a variety of nutrients to stay fit and healthy. Macro and micronutrients are two broad categories of nutrients that are required daily. Vitamins and minerals come under micronutrients. Though they do not provide any energy, unlike macronutrients, they are still essential for our daily body function. Additionally, water and fiber are necessary for the well-being of the human body.
A varied diet generally provides enough of each vitamin and mineral. However, providing daily optimum nutrition to the body is a challenge in today’s time. The reasons may include lack of time, sedentary lifestyle, personal preferences, easy availability of junk food, unhealthy habits, etc. Deficiency in the body develops when the body does not receive daily required nutrition. The signs and symptoms of vitamin and mineral deficiency are very subtle and may not be obvious. For instance, feeling exhausted is a sign of iron deficiency. However, one may not recognize these subtle signs and feel it is due to one’s hectic work life. To avoid shortages in the body, one must be vigilant towards these subtle signs. One way could be introducing a daily supplement to bridge the gap between the daily nutrition required by the body and the food we eat. The key is to ensure that multivitamin supplements are taken in addition to healthy diet choices and nutrient-dense foods. One must not forget that supplements supplement the diet and are not a replacement for a healthy diet.
Let us see some specific conditions when supplementation becomes crucial:
Vegetarians: People who do not eat animal products need to consume vitamin B12 supplements. A dairy product like curd or cheese might provide some amount to vegetarians. However, it is recommended to supplement to avoid vitamin B 12 deficiency such as pernicious anemia.
Vitamin D needs may also be more challenging to meet, and a supplement may be helpful. Since the sources of Vitamin D-rich food are less in number. And the available ones are from animal sources such as milk, egg, fish, meat, liver
Personal preferences: If you do not drink milk or eat foods high in calcium, you may need a calcium supplement. Multivitamin and mineral supplements do not have enough calcium to meet daily needs. Calcium should be taken as an independent tablet. People with osteoporosis (thinning of the bones) may need calcium and vitamin D supplements to meet their needs.
People with food allergies or intolerances, or those who have a limited diet may need a vitamin or mineral supplement or both to help meet their needs.
Junk food eaters: An apparent reason to add supplements as most nutrients are missing from their diet. Individuals or children who are regular junk food eaters suffer from micronutrient deficiencies.
It is advisable to start the supplements under the guidance of a qualified dietician /nutritionist. Never take more than the recommended dose of multivitamins and minerals. Always take supplements with food for maximum absorption, unless specified for a particular supplement to take an empty stomach.