Why do we need supplements?

With dietary supplements available almost anywhere and everywhere, and coming in all shapes and sizes, from tablets to capsules, liquids to drinks, and even in gummy format, you might be wondering if there is something you should be taking too?

After all, with 6 in 10 Brits having taken vitamins, minerals or other dietary supplements in the last year, and one in three taking them daily, it seems almost crazy not to.

So, let’s get the big question out of the way first…

Do I need to take vitamin supplements?

In a word, no.

That’s it – job done, case closed, you can leave now!

But that’s not quite what you were expecting a website that sells vitamin supplements for a living to say was it? Do you have a sneaking suspicion that there might be a little more to unpack there than just a simple “no, off you go, have a nice life”?

Well, you’d be right!

The slightly longer version of this answer goes like this:

No you don’t need to take vitamin supplements because for most people (rare medical conditions aside) it’s entirely possible to get everything your body needs to sustain itself from your daily intake of food and drink.

However – and I bet you could sense this coming couldn’t you? – in order to ensure that you take on the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals that you need to keep your mind and body running in optimal condition, you’ll need to spend quite a bit of time and energy planning your weekly meals, running around picking up a wide variety of ingredients, and preparing several wholesome nutritious meals a day.

The question becomes slightly more complex if you have complex dietary requirements – for example, if you’re a vegan – as there may be several vitamins or minerals which become increasingly more complex to ingest once you remove certain food groups (meat, dairy, seafood etc) from your available options.

So, you have to ask yourself – how often do you intake a perfect selection of food and drink, designed to provide an optimally balanced mix of essential vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats and carbohydrates?

My guess is – although we’re all trying our best – most of us, most of the time, would admit to being less than perfect. Unless you’re a Hollywood A-lister or an elite sportsperson, with a nutritionist and chef on retainer, then the pressures and constraints of real life will be getting in the way of you procuring and preparing multiple meals every day that hit all the key nutritional hotspots.

There must be a better way?

Well, I’m glad you asked! Of course there is…

In the words of Carol Haggans, a registered dietitian and consultant to NIH:

“Supplements can be useful for filling in gaps in your diet.”

Similarly, The Harvard School of Public Health suggests taking a daily multivitamin. They call it “a great nutrition insurance policy.”

In short, unless you know you’re getting everything you need from your food and drink intake (and I have to think that if you’re reading this, you probably have some doubts on that score!) then it’s probably wise to think about filling in some of the gaps with supplements.

Whether you want to be specific and target just the areas that you know you’re struggling to fill (vegan’s will want to read this – sportsmen and women should have a read here), or simply take a catch all such as our 100% NRV multivitamin, which ensures that you get everything you need, every day, to stay on top form, we would certainly recommend you take a look at the options and see what works for you.

Why else might I want to take dietary supplements?

There are a lot of other reasons to consider taking dietary supplements, other than to top up your daily nutritional intake to 100% NRV levels.

Dietary supplements can also:

  • Help prevent disease

Of course, we would be wrong to suggest that supplements can cure or treat an existing illness, however can play a pivotal role in disease prevention. Children in their growing years may benefit from Vitamin D, calcium and iron supplements to build strong bone structure, healthy immune systems and prevent anaemia.

Similarly, for adults over the age of forty, supplementing your diet with Vitamin D and B12 helps ward off osteoporosis and neuropathy, and Omega 3 helps to maintain heart health.

  • Assist with pregnancy

Pregnant women are recommended to take folic acid supplements to help prevent birth defects. Vitamin D is also recommended to maintain healthy bones, teeth and muscles. Iron supplements can help prevent anaemia, and Vitamin C protects cells and helps keep them healthy.

  • Provide sunshine

Individuals who work night shifts or who have routines which require a majority of time to be spent indoors may need Vitamin D.

  • Supplement Crohn’s

Chronic conditions like Crohn’s or Celiac disease lead to insufficient nutrient absorption. Such individuals often require Vitamin B12 regularly despite being on healthy diet routines.

  • Enhance physical performance

Vitamin supplements can help support and maintain physical endurance and performance. Periods of hard training can often benefit from increased vitamin usage. Coupled with protein drinks, amino acids, and other key sports nutrition we can build muscle faster, recover more quickly, and perform better than ever before.

  • Act as nootropics

Ongoing research in the field of dietary supplements has come forward with certain supplements that enhance brain function. Called nootropics, they may help improve memory, focus and alertness and support cerebral activities.

Conclusion

Dietary supplements are an easy and convenient way to ensure your daily vitamin and mineral needs are met. However, whether to take a supplement or not should be decided after consultation with a medical professional.