Just a few decades ago, most people thought vitamin supplements were only important during pregnancy. As the debate about vitamin supplements continues into the 21st century, scientific studies reveal more evidence that we all may benefit from some form of vitamin and mineral supplementation. In modern times, the Western diet evolved to include processed foods that fail to deliver any substantial nutrient content. Before the convenience of factory-produced foods evolved, diets included more vegetables and naturally raised meats.
Farming methods, including the increased use of pesticides, have reduced mineral content. Geographical changes and global warming are also negatively affecting soil mineral levels and the introduction of genetically modified foods has affected available nutrients through food sources. Researchers also believe our body’s nutrient requirements may be growing over time as our environment becomes more toxic.
Vitamin supplements can fortify almost anyone’s health. Children’s supplements may provide extra protection for developing bones and organs. Active children who participate in sports may require extra vitamins and minerals. Healthy adults who are interested in maintaining optimal health may also benefit from supplements to replace minerals and vitamins lost during exercise. Older individuals with certain medical conditions like arthritis or alzheimer’s may benefit tremendously with extra vitamin support through supplements.
Dr. Mark Hyman, MD, Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, recommends vitamin and mineral supplements for people experiencing weight control issues. “Paradoxical though it might seem, obesity and malnutrition often go hand in hand. Processed, high-sugar, high-calorie foods contain almost no nutrients, yet require even more vitamins and minerals to metabolize them.” Dr. Hyman also attributes diabetes and other metabolic disturbances with malnutrition and believes vitamin supplements should be a crucial element in any treatment plan. People who take medications should always consult with their medical provider before adding supplements to their health care regimen.
Individual requirements for vitamin supplements depend on unique factors. A person’s health, level of activity, diet, and other factors need to be considered when deciding which vitamin supplements you need. It’s important to do your research, as Vitamin D and vitamin C are essential for bone growth, maintenance and repair. For many, these supplement alternatives can get expensive, so before you try to hit the lottery just to stay in proper health, look for deals online and talk with people you know to get deals on your supplements. Orthopedists often recommend vitamin c supplements when healing from bone fractures and torn ligaments. People who smoke cigarettes show depleted Vitamin C levels and would benefit from supplements. As people age, the body becomes less efficient in absorbing vitamins and minerals from the foods they eat. Supplements are often necessary to compensate, especially with the B vitamins, calcium, and vitamin D.
Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, considers the rising interest in vitamin supplements for health maintenance as an important contributing factor to increased research in disease prevention. “A recent randomized trial in men suggested multivitamin supplements have possible benefits for cancer prevention. We’re investigating other nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D and hope to have the results from the randomized controlled trials available within a few years.”
As the world around us continues to evolve, the body’s demands for vitamins, minerals and antioxidants also evolve. Fortunately, vitamin and mineral supplements provide some assurance to meet the requirements needed to maintain optimal health and may be beneficial in disease prevention.