There is considerable amount literature available on the use of Vitamin supplements and minerals, and there is equal amount of confusion as to what one should do. In the end one ends up with more questions and few answers.
- Should one rely on healthy diet to get all the need?
- What supplements are good?
- Who needs them?
In my work as a doctor I was asked this question almost daily and I am sharing here some of the advice and discussion on this subject. We will confine our discussion to a reasonably well-to-do person or family.
Based on work and life style, I would be inclined to say that a majority of city dwellers have inadequate diet from the point of view of Vitamin and mineral intake. The fast food scenario tends to focus more on immediate calorie needs and/or need for having a full stomach and of quenching the thirst. There is usually no time to look for a balanced diet. If both partners are working the situation is even more chaotic. Add to this different knowledge levels, different attitudes, etc., and a substantial number of city families have inadequate and unbalance vitamin and mineral intake.
One of the significant ways of getting extra vitamins and minerals is to use fortified foods. There are many varieties of foods in the Supermarket, which have added vitamins and minerals. In general, these are a safe way of supplementing your needs.
There are many varieties and combinations of vitamin/mineral pills. In general, all water soluble vitamins and minerals are a pretty safe bet. You are not like to overdose and any extra will be thrown out of the system. Cooking often reduces these essential items â€“ Vitamin B and C and some minerals.
The oil soluble vitamins are a slightly different story. Theoretically you can overdose yourself with these. In practice, I have rarely come across such a situation.
Infants require careful use of supplements, but in most cases, the formulas used for infant feeding and infant foods take care of the supplements. Every pregnant woman knows or should know of increased need of iron and folate. Whenever an allopathic doctor is handling pregnancy he/she usually prescribes a supplement. Iron deficiency anaemia as a result of pregnancy is very rare in the affluent societies. Senior citizens often have difficulty in absorbing Vitamin B12 and end up getting pernicious anaemia. They need a supplement of B12 in the form of injections. Omega 3 is an important supplement in the prevention of cardiac disease.
On the whole I am in favour of using some form of Vitamin/mineral supplement. As I stated earlier, it is very unlikely you would have any problems form using such a supplement. Detailed examination of each available pill as a supplement is beyond the scope of this small article. I just want people to feel reassured that while there is a dietary deficiency, a correction is readily available at the local pharmacy. If you try to go into great details of balanced diet, you will achieve sufficiency, but a vast majority of people will choose to supplement.