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The Importance of Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation

The Importance of Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation

Vitamins, minerals and other dietary supplements are designed to do exactly that – supplement, not replace, the nutrition and health benefits provided by a healthy and balanced diet. Dieticians agree it’s always better to get your nutrients from food, because food contains fibre and phytochemicals that work together to achieve optimum nutritional benefits that are impossible to obtain from supplements alone.

“The power’s on the plate, not in the pill,” says Roberta Anding, MS, RD, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and director of sports nutrition at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. 

Having said that, however, not many of us eat a flawless diet containing everything we need to stay at maximum levels of good health. Our busy lives mean food is often whatever’s quick and easy, not necessarily what’s nutritious and wholesome. And even with the best will in the world, its difficult to meet all our body’s nutritional needs without consuming an excessive amount of calories.

This is why careful and judicious vitamin and mineral supplementation can safely fill in any gaps in the nutrition we receive from our diets.

Why Are Vitamins and Minerals Important?

Vitamins and minerals are the micronutrients our bodies use, in very small amounts, to facilitate a wide range of metabolic processes. Vitamins, for example:

  • Act as co-enzymes in chemical reactions
  • Support the nervous and immune systems
  • Contribute towards growth
  • Help convert nutrients into energy
  • Process proteins, fats and carbohydrates
  • Significantly increase our body’s ability to heal itself
  • Help our blood clot

Minerals are not produced by our bodies, so we have to ingest them in food or take supplements. Minerals perform many functions, including:

  • Help in our overall growth and development
  • Coordinate the activity of our nerves and muscles
  • Build and regulate cells

Symptoms of a mineral deficiency include muscle weakness, vomiting, exhaustion, lack of energy, anaemia and cramps.

Micronutrients have mental benefits too – studies show that using micronutrients in suitable doses is effective in the treatment of anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, stress, autism, ADHD and PTSD and trauma.

Balance is Key

So, we know that vitamin and mineral supplements are very useful at preventing harmful deficiencies in our bodies, but we also know that you can have too much of a good thing!

Fat-soluble vitamins, such as A, D, E and K, are stored in the body, meaning you don’t need to take them every day, as high doses can become toxic. Even some water-soluble vitamins can cause problems - too much vitamin C can cause diarrhoea, high doses of vitamin A may cause liver, bone, skin and central nervous system disorders, and too much vitamin B6 has been linked to nerve damage.

Overdosing on minerals is also dangerous, and can even be fatal in the case of iron. Even a small amount over the recommended dose can cause coma and sometimes even death.

What’s clear is that any vitamin and mineral supplementation should be done responsibly and with full knowledge of the potential risks of taking too high a dose.

Dr Alain Sanua is a qualified medical doctor who is passionate about practising Integrated Medicine. This means he combines Homeopathy, Acupuncture, Nutritional Advice, Mineral and Vitamin supplementation, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Functional Medicine to create a holistic health and wellness approach. Talk to him about how you can maximise the efficacy of your mineral and vitamin supplementation programme. 

 

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