Vitamin and Mineral Supplements: Yes or No?

Diet fads: they’re everywhere.
It’s hard to keep healthy eating habits when there is a fast food
joint on every corner and pizza is just a phone call away. We’ve all been
there- too tired, no time, or just too lazy to want to cook. Two key factors to
good nutrition are planning and balance. Planning what to eat throughout the
week will help keep you on track while balancing food groups will ensure
adequate nutrient intake. 

A new fad is supplementing the nutrients you miss in
your food in order to meet the recommended daily intake. There are a lot of
supplements out there, but how do you know if they’re “good for you” or
actually work?
There are many different types of nutrients found in food. These
can be broken down into two categories: macronutrients and micronutrients.
Macronutrients are carbohydrates, protein, and fat. When we think about food,
these are what we typically think about. Most of our diets consist of these
three nutrients because we need them in large amounts to survive.
Micronutrients, however, are often overlooked. Vitamins and minerals are
micronutrients; we only need these nutrients in small amounts. Without
micronutrients, our bodies would not function properly.
If you eat a balanced diet, you typically do not need to take
supplements. Not getting enough vitamins and minerals, however, can be very
detrimental to your health. For example, B vitamins are essential for healthy
skin, hair, and brain function. Vitamin D works to maintain calcium levels
which is needed for healthy teeth and bones; calcium- a mineral- also plays a
very important role in muscle contractions and nerve impulse transmissions.
If you do not get enough of these nutrients in your food,
supplementing them can be very helpful. However, many nutritionists recommend
getting these vital nutrients from food first because the body will more easily
break them down. The body can have a harder time catabolizing supplements,
specifically fat soluble vitamins which is absorbed better when eaten with a
food that provides fat.
If you are curious about nutrition, supplements, or eating
healthier, you should speak to your doctor or nutritionist first. Everybody is
different.  A doctor or nutritionist can
help you break down your eating habits, add nutrient rich foods, and possibly
recommend the supplements that will work best for you. 

Remember- planning and
balance are key to healthy eating habits!

Blog post by Nikki Courtney.