Do I need to take a nutritional supplement?

Do I need to take a nutritional supplement?

With a well-balanced diet – plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, adequate protein and healthy fats – you should be able to get all your nutritional requirements from your food. However, there are categories of people for whom supplementation will not only benefit but for whom it’s outwardly recommended.

If you fall into any of these categories, consider taking an appropriate supplement to ensure that you’re getting all vitamins and minerals your body needs:

  • Pregnant women or women trying to get pregnant (or who may become pregnant). It’s recommended that they take folic acid (folate) supplements to prevent neural tube birth defects.
  • Breastfeeding women who can’t meet their nutrient needs with food.
  • People who drink too much alcohol, smoke or use illegal drugs.
  • The elderly, especially those who are disabled or chronically ill.
  • People who follow a special diet, such as lactose-free, vegan, or strict vegetarian diets who have limited dietary options for vitamin B12.
  • People on low-calorie diets that limit the amount of vitamins and minerals they can consume through food.
  • Women with heavy periods.
  • People with food allergies, e.g. a calcium supplement would be helpful for those who are lactose intolerant.
  • People with medical conditions, such as intestinal disorders, or malabsorption problems, such as diarrhea, coeliac disease, cystic fibrosis, or pancreatitis.
  • People who take medications that may increase their need for certain vitamins.
  • People who are food insecure and who are eliminating food groups from their diet.
  • People who have a specific condition, and the specific nutrient remedies the problem, e.g. a doctor may prescribe iron supplements to an anaemic, or extra calcium to a woman with weak bones.
  • People at risk for a deficiency, e.g. a doctor may prescribe vitamin D to an older person with dark skin who is not getting enough vitamin D from the sun.

Supplement Safety

If you are taking supplements, keep to the recommended dose. Some people mistakenly think that large amounts of vitamins would be better since small amounts are good for you. However, regularly taking large doses (for no reason) can cause serious health problems and even toxicity. Certain supplements can interact with prescription medication and medical treatments, so always inform your healthcare practitioner if you are taking any supplements.

If you’re a healthy adult, generally the dose would be close to the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), unless you’re taking a higher dose under medical advice.

When choosing your supplement, always check if there is a full list of ingredients on the product, a package insert, a valid company address with contact details and compliance to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), which is a prerequisite for health product manufacturing.


References

  1. Better Health. (n.d.). Vitamin and mineral supplements – what to know. Better Health [Online]. Accessed on 17 March 2023.
  2. Blake, J.S. & Wiegman, A. (n.d.). Who needs vitamin/mineral supplements?. Sharecare [Online]. Accessed on 17 March 2023.
  3. The European Food Information Council. (2013). What are Food Supplements and Who Needs Them? Eufic [Online]. Accessed on 17 March 2023.

Disclaimer

These articles are for information purposes only. It cannot replace the diagnosis of a healthcare provider. Pharma Dynamics gives no warranty as to the accuracy of the information contained in such articles and shall not, under any circumstances, be liable for any consequences which may be suffered as a result of a user’s reliance thereon.

The information the reader is about to be referred to may not comply with the South Africa regulatory requirements. Information relevant to the South African environment is available from the Company and in the Professional Information/Patient Information Leaflet/Instructions for Use approved by the Regulatory Authority