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ASK AN EXPERT: WHY DO I NEED TO SUPPLEMENT MY DIET?
by Dara Winters on November 17, 2020
Two reasons: firstly our lifeload puts greater demands on our nutrient requirements and secondly, although we have lots of available food, our diet is often low in nutrients.
Our 24/7 world is, like never before, putting pressure on our body. We haven’t changed much in 60,000 years and you only have to look at how our world has changed even over the last 25 years to realise that something needs to change. We should be the healthiest we’ve ever been but we’ve never been sicker. There are many reasons for this (technology being one factor!!) and one important link is the increase in low nutrient, processed food. Heralded as a saviour for the time poor which we all are now (or perceive ourselves to be due to above technology!!), processed foods (and I don’t mean fast food here, just food that has been partly chopped or cooked or prepped) sadly don't have the nutrient content that food does when it’s cooked from scratch. We’re often so frazzled (due to the increased demands of our 24/7 world) that we can’t think what to cook, so reach for the easiest option, like pasta and a sauce or something that can be taken from the freezer and popped in the oven.
On the one hand, nutrients from food are decreasing and on the other, we’re in need of higher levels of nutrients to help us deal with increased stress load (and that’s even before factoring in a global pandemic!). My first nutrient which patients often find is low is vitamin C. We don’t store it so we need it every day. When we’re stressed we need it more. When we’re ill we need it more. Zinc is another mineral that’s often low in our diet as is iron and magnesium. Aside from re-assessing your food intake (and as a nutritionist I am always about food first), supplementation can help when there are increased demands for nutrients when stressed or ill for example.
But remember not all supplements are made equal. In fact many of them give the supplement market a bad press due to low potency and/or not in the right format meaning absorption is low. Always look at what’s in the supplement. Are the minerals and vitamins in the right format? If they’re showing magnesium or zinc oxide for example then this form of mineral isn’t as well absorbed as say magnesium or zinc citrate. Also what is the potency like? Is it high enough to make a difference and be worth the investment? Remember that food state vitamins and minerals are researched to be well absorbed so the potency levels will be lower, as not so much is needed. Look at what fillers are being used. Is that pill full of bulking agents? Is that powder full of sugar or fructose? Natural sweeteners like stevia do not affect your blood sugar in the same way. Watch out for aspartame too.
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