Monday, 4 October 2010

To supplement or not to supplement

In this weeks blogs I'm going to cover a few questions on vitamin and mineral supplements. Starting with why people should take them.

In the eighties and nineties supplements were de rigeur but lately there seems to be some sentiment against them - seeing them as 'unnatural' or in some way dangerous partly encouraged by alarmist journalism.

Certainly it's possible to overdose on supplements with ill effects, but just in the same way that you could overdose on over the counter medication - all supplements will recommended dosage on the bottle.

One argument against supplements is that out ancestors never took them, however our lives and food habits are very different from how they were even two hundred years ago.

Food was grown organically and sold locally so was fresher and more nutritious than the fruit and veg we buy in the supermarket. Due to a lack of refrigeration food was bought daily and cooked and served much quicker than today, so the food retained more nutrients before being served. Most food was prepared from scratch including bread which was made with flour that was less refined than today so had less nutrients stripped out of it ... you get the picture.

And it isn't just that food is less nutritious today but also that our lives mean we need higher levels of nutrients. Much higher exposure to pollutants from cars and industry increases our need for antioxidants, whilst high stress life styles and lack of sleep mean we need more B vitamins. Exercise is of course excellent for you but the hoards of people who are now training for marathons, triathlons and various endurance events all have a higher nutrient requirement.

Of course if you live on a subsistence farm out in the countryside you're much less likely to need supplements than us city folk, but for the rest of supplements are an important addition to our diets.

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