Whoever coined the phrase ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ clearly lived long before vitamins and supplements were available so readily. And while you should try and get the vast majority of your vitamins and minerals from a balanced diet, supplements are a wonderful way to ensure you are living your most healthy life. Vitamins play a crucial role in maintaining health and wellbeing. They break down macronutrients like carbs, protein and fat which help the body operate at its best.
I will always recommend that you speak to your doctor or dietician to make sure you are taking vitamins and supplements properly. Some people will have different needs, and depending on whether you are a male or female, the quantities will differ.
This helps fight infection, and maintains your vision. It helps support kidney, lung and heart health. It also fights off toxins to maintain healthy skin, bones and teeth. As you can see, it lifts up so many areas of your health, and shouldn’t be ignored. You can naturally find Vitamin A in fruits like mangoes, apricots and rockmelon. But should these be out of season or hard to come by, a Vitamin A supplement will be just as good. For me, you can safely supplement 900 micrograms a day or 700 for women.
Most people don’t get enough Vitamin B – it gets difficult because there are eight different kinds of vitamin B, each with different dosages. It functions in your body to turn food into energy. It reduces your risk of major diseases like heart disease and stroke. It also maintains your brain function and memory, while lowering your cholesterol. To get this into your diet, you can increase your leafy greens, meat and whole grains. If this is tricky, there are various supplements to help get this into your system.
This is always a crowd favourite. Most people remember taking Vitamin C tablets as children which had a pleasant orangey flavour. It’s not a hard sell. But in fact Vitamin C can be found in many fruits and vegetables: Brussel sprouts, broccoli, strawberries, oranges. It is helpful because it helps reduce the risk of picking up the common cold (as everyone knows), but it also maintains skin, bone and teeth health. It also helps the absorption of iron if you have a deficiency. You can’t really overdose on Vitamin C, but the recommended dose before the excess simply gets expelled is about 90 milligrams for men and 75 for women.
A doctor friend of mine once told me that he advised people to go outside to get some ‘benny Ds’ – beneficial Vitamin D. You see, the best way to get Vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight – obviously within reason. In some parts of the world that aren’t blessed with the same amount of sunlight as us, they need to supplement fairly heavily. We are not quite so desperate, but many people still have deficiencies, particularly if they work in an office. You can increase your levels by ingesting cod liver oil fatty fish, milk and cereals. Vitamin D is necessary for bone health (which is why a deficiency can sometimes result in rickets. But it also maintains your nervous system and immune cell function. It’s not the kind of thing you want to skimp on.
From a young age, we get told how crucial calcium is for bone health. Drink your milk if you want to grow up big and strong, said everyone’s parent. It remains one of the most successful marketing pushes in history. Happily, it was legitimately helpful. If getting enough calcium into your diet is challenging because of a lactose intolerance, you can naturally supplement with tofu, spinach, rhubarb ad soy. As you get older your required levels of calcium increases so it is important that you get advice that is personal and specific from a health professional. Failure to meet the demands can result in osteoporosis which makes life very difficult as we approach old age.
Iron is a crucial mineral in your boy because it helps to transport oxygen in blood. This is kinda how you stay alive, so it is worth getting right. If you don’t have enough iron, your immune system gets a little bit less effective, and you might find yourself more fatigued by everyday activities. If you are vegan or vegetarian, you are at extra risk of an iron deficiency because one of the most potent sources of iron is red meat. However, you can just naturally supplement this with leafy greens and legumes. It just requires some intentionality. Getting the required level of iron will help brain function, concentration as well as immune support and a greater level of oxygen in your blood stream.
Zinc might be likened to chilli in a meal. You don’t need lots of it, but if it isn’t there, the meal lacks something. The recommended dosage for men is around 11 milligrams a day and 8 for women. It may be small, but it packs a punch. It boosts your immune system and minimises your chance of picking up infections like pneumonia, or certain kinds of cancer. If you are looking to get this into your diet, you should be increasing your serves of red meat, poultry, beans, nuts and whole grains.
The advice around vitamins and minerals is always a tricky one. In a perfect world, you would get everything you need from a balanced diet. But in this perfect world, you would be reading 300 books a year, exercising an hour a day, and pursuing your hobbies instead of Netflix. We live in an imperfect world. Even the food we eat is more processed than it has ever been. So we are faced with a choice. Do we either focus on making sure the food we eat is perfectly balanced? Or do we acknowledge the problems of modern living and pick up some vitamins and supplements to address the shortcomings?
I think the answer is pretty clear…