There is no substitute to healthy eating. However, when you are not able to follow a well balanced diet, multivitamins can certainly help in preventing nutritional deficiencies. Ideally nutritional deficiencies should be met through a proper nutrient rich diet, comprising of vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts and whole grains, but when the diet lacks nutrients, it is best to supplement it with multivitamins.
Here is a list of the ideal vitamins & minerals for optimum health:
Vitamins and minerals are essential for protecting you from certain diseases and maintaining good health. Vitamins are required for normal cell growth and development.
- Folic acid
Supplementation with folic acid is crucial during and shortly after pregnancy, as the body needs increase during this period, as it can prevent birth defects and heart ailments. A water soluble vitamin, folic acid is vital for red blood cells.
Required for the normal metabolism of cells, iodine ensures proper functioning of thyroid gland. You can get iodine from seafood, iodised salt and sea vegetables.
- Vitamin A
In most multivitamins, the synthetic beta-carotene does not play any role in preventing cancer in smokers; rather, it may raise the risk of lung cancer in those who smoke. Contrarily, natural beta-carotenes are known for helping to prevent certain diseases. You should not take more than 10,000 IU of vitamin A supplements without consulting a doctor due to risk of bone loss.
- B Vitamins
The elderly are more likely to suffer from Vitamin B12 deficiency than healthy young people. People who are pure vegetarians and those who take antacids or acid-blocking drugs for prolonged periods are also found to be deficient in this vitamin. B vitamins help to boost energy levels and improve mood and overall well-being.
Folic acid and B12 are water soluble vitamins that work great in controlling homocysteine levels in the blood. Research reveals that supplementing with either of these vitamins helps to reverse hardening of arteries and lessen chances of bone fractures.
- Vitamin C
Experts believe that optimal daily intake of vitamin C for disease prevention should be 90 to 100 mg. Increasing supplemental use of the vitamin by healthy people does not offer any additional benefit, nor does it prove helpful in fighting diseases.
- Vitamin D
Lack of vitamin D poses a risk of bone loss and fractures in aged people. Research proves that vitamin D supplementation may help to reduce or prevent bone loss and risk of falls. While 2,000 IU of vitamin D is considered safe for regular use, it can prove toxic if taken in high amounts.
- Vitamin E
Doctors advise against the use of excessive amounts of vitamin E. Some studies claim that "mixed tocopherols may prove safer and beneficial for the prevention of heart disease.
- Vitamin K
Deficiency of vitamin K can cause bleeding problems and risks causing osteoporosis.
Inorganic substances, minerals are necessary for the normal function of the body.
Good calcium nutrition is crucial for preventing bone loss and fracture. It helps in achieving peak bone mass. Lack of calcium weakens bones, posing a risk of fractures.
People deficient in chromium often are found to have abnormal blood sugar and cholesterol levels. It is important to stick to recommended dosage of chromium to prevent any side effects from overdose.
Supplementing with copper may prove helpful for bone health, preventing bone loss. However, it should not be taken along with zinc supplements, as it can interfere with copper absorption.
Unless you have been diagnosed with high iron deficiency, you should avoid taking iron supplements, as iron can accumulate to toxic levels in the body and cause serious diseases. Vegetarians, pregnant women, lactating mothers, menstruating women and adolescent athletes are at a risk of iron deficiency.
A key mineral in metabolism, magnesium is crucial for over 300 chemical reactions in the body. Dietary deficiency of magnesium affects bone health in some adult women and elderly people.
If you consume significant amounts of processed, refined foods, you are more likely to be deficient in manganese and other trace minerals. Manganese deficiency may cause bone loss. It is important to supplement iron with manganese, as the former can deplete the latter from the body.
Supplementing with yeast-based selenium may help to reduce the risk of serious diseases. For safe long-term use, 400 mcg of selenium per day is sufficient for adults.
Zinc helps to prevent growth impairment in children. The mineral is known to boost immune function in healthy people; however, more than 50mg of zinc per day can impair immune function. Supplement zinc with copper supplements in order to avoid copper deficiency.
- People taking calcium supplements should take phosphorus in supplement form, as calcium interferes with phosphorus absorption.
- Increased intake of potassium may help to prevent high blood pressure and heart stroke. You should avoid taking multiple pills, as they can irritate the stomach.
- With antioxidant properties, flavonoids belong to the class of nonessential nutrients, which have been found to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Who is At Risk for Vitamin-Mineral Deficiencies?
Vegetarians are at a high risk of vitamin B12, D, iron, zinc, calcium, protein, iodine, selenium and riboflavin deficiency. Vegans who avoid dairy products are at a greater risk of protein deficiency.
- People spending a lot of time indoors are often deficient in vitamin D. Elderly people are more likely to lack calcium, vitamin A, D, E and zinc. Some are also found deficient in vitamin B1 and B2.
- Most premenopausal women lack iron, calcium, vitamin A and C.
Are Multivitamin Supplements Safe?
Overconsumption of everything is bad. If you take too many nutritional or herbal supplements, it will do you no good. Rather, some might even have unwanted side effects; interaction with other drugs or supplements may be one of the side effects. You should always consult with your doctor before adding nutritional supplements to your regime.