- Nutrient supplements are required for optimum functioning
- Avoid taking them over-the-counter
- Take them in doses prescribed by your doctor
In an ideal world, we wouldn't need any supplements, our food would supply us with all the vitamins and minerals we need. But we don't live in an ideal world, do we? According to nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar, given the kind of food we eat (which is mostly adulterated) and the amount of stress we have in our daily lives, we need supplements for optimum functioning. In her book Don't Lose Your Mind Lose Your Weight, she describes how including food supplements in your diet will do more good than harm. This of course, is along with the fact that you consume them in the pattern prescribed by a health expert.
Why do we need supplements? Nutritionists explain
Dietary supplement is a broad term which includes pills, liquid syrups, powders and blends comprising of a concentrated dosage of essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, protein, or antioxidants to supplement the nutritional needs. "Remember, these are just add-ons and not the replacement or substitute for any food," says nutritionist Nmami Agarwal.
Also read: Do You Need Protein Supplements?
"Because of the times we are living in and the kind of lifestyle most of us are leading, supplementing the diet has become a mandate for many. The reasons are many: poor diet, environmental pollution, stress, calorie-restrictive diets, scarcity of local or fresh produce, and the need meet nutritional deficiencies," she adds.
Agarwal explains that for someone who spends most of the time indoors with negligible exposure to sunlight, Vitamin D supplement is a must. And it is not surprising that the majority of urban working population falls into this category.
Similarly, we all are exposed to tremendous levels of stress and pollution - these two factors deplete the body's capacity of fighting damage caused by free radicals. Taking supplements can help improve the body's ability to fight off common and chronic infections.
At the same time, it is important to understand that your focus should be of consuming a balanced and nourishing diet. "There is no shortcut to satisfying your nutrient intake apart from eating healthy. Supplements come as part of eating healthy," says Agarwal.
Diwekar agrees in the book and writes, "I know vitamin and mineral supplements are no replacement to healthy eating, regular exercise and a positive attitude. But when you have a base line diet in place, workout regularly and are compassionate towards yourself and the world, food supplements will help make them work at their best."
Which supplements do we need?
Diwekar says that the supplements we need on a regular basis are vitamins like A, E, B and C, and minerals like selenium, zinc, chromium and calcium. "They should be taken as preventive strategies," she asserts.
But, you must refrain from buying over-the-counter supplements, says Agarwal and adds, "Always consult an expert before choosing the right supplements for you because even excess instake of vitamins can be harmful to health. There are certain combinations of supplements that work better together like: iron supplement with a dose of Vitamin C enhances the absorption of iron. So, always rely on an expert before considering any form of dietary supplement."
(Rujuta Diwekar is a nutritionist based in Mumbai)
(Nmami Agarwal is nutritionist at Nmami Life)
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