Anyone Keen for Expensive Wee? Part 3

This is the third and final post in a series of posts on vitamin and mineral supplements. You can read the other 2 posts here:
Anyone keen for expensive wee? Part 1
Anyone keen for expensive wee? Part 2

I believe that knowledge is power. The purpose of these posts is to encourage you to become educated about your nutrition and health choices and to know whether vitamin and mineral supplements are right for you.

Generally speaking, supplements are only necessary in cases of special dietary needs or unique phases of life. Here is some recommended reading on the following population groups and special phases of life where supplements may be necessary.

Special Dietary Needs
This is a great article on your choices when it comes to meeting your dietary requirements for calcium and you can’t or don’t eat dairy products. Generally, unless you are drinking fortified soy products, a supplement is the best way to go to ensure adequate calcium for healthy bones.

When you can’t eat dairy products.

Vegan/Vegetarian
Becoming a vegetarian is usually a very well thought out and personal decision, at least it should be. This article gives some great advice on how to ensure you are getting the right amount of nutrients and points out the areas you need to be mindful of. If you are unable to follow this advice then it may be worth looking at taking a supplement to bridge the gap for vitamin B12, calcium, zinc and iron.

What do I need to know if I want to go vego or vegan?

Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a very special time of life and as such growing a healthy baby requires good nutrition, before, during and after pregnancy. These 2 articles look at 2 major nutrient issues in pregnancy and offer advice on how to achieve the right balance.

Iodine and pregnancy
Folic acid, good for your baby

Stressed/Tired
These types of supplements, in my opinion, are not necessary and you are better off spending your money on other things. The main reason is that these supplements generally contain B vitamins. B vitamins are vital for the breakdown and metabolism of carbohydrates and the thus the health claims on the packet are that taking these supplements will give you more energy. The fact is, in western, developed countries, B vitamin deficiencies are very rare and consuming more than we need doesn’t give us any more energy as any excess is just excreted by the kidneys.

The 2 articles below give you some great ideas on what you can do to increase your energy levels throughout the day and beat that afternoon slump.

Increasing your energy levels
The top 12 energy drainers

I have just covered the most common special needs that may require nutrient supplementation in this post.  I’d love to hear your comments if you take supplements for reasons other than what I’ve discussed today.

Would you like to know whether or not your diet is putting you at risk of a vitamin and mineral deficiency? Kate Freeman Nutrition can offer you a Dietary Analysis, which will give you an insight into your diet, it’s strengths and weaknesses and advice on how you can improve it.

Please email me at katefreemannutrition@gmail.com for more information.

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Anyone Keen for Expensive Wee? Part 2

This is the second post from a series about vitamin and mineral supplements. You can read the first post, Anyone keen for expensive wee? Part 1, here.

The purpose of these posts is to get you thinking about your own personal nutrition needs and to help you to make smart, educated decisions on what is best for you. Be critical of sensational marketing claims and talk to a health professional about what is right for you. Here is a great blog post on supplement advice from a blog written by a registered dietitian in America, Nutrition Unplugged.

So are vitamin and mineral supplements necessary or are we wasting our money?

As far as science can tell, supplements are only necessary in cases of special dietary needs or unique phases of life.

In the mean time here are a few points to consider when thinking about taking a supplement.

Food fortification

A lot of today’s manufactured food is what nutritionists call fortified. This means that certain vitamins and minerals have been added to the food to boost its nutritional content. As a result, it is easier for our diets to meet our bodies nutritional requirements. For more information on fortified foods in Australia please visit Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ). Examples of fortified foods include:

  • milk – calcium, vitamin D and omega 3 are some of the nutrients added to some milks,
  • breakfast cereal – iron, B vitamins, vitamin C and zinc are just a few of the many nutrients added to breakfast cereals,
  • bread – it is now mandatory in Australia for all bread flour to be fortified with folic acid and iodine,
  • drinks – Milo and Ovaltine are examples of drink bases that are fortified with a number of different vitamins and minerals,
  • margarine – it is mandatory in Australia for margarine to be fortified with vitamin D
  • chewing gum – some low sugar chewing gums are now fortified with calcium

Too much of a good thing
Yes, it is possible to have too much of a good thing, vitamins and minerals included. Taking a supplement on top of the food you eat, especially if you eat a lot of fortified foods, can put you at risk of certain vitamin and mineral overloads or it makes the supplement completely unnecessary as the body gets rid of any excess.

For water-soluble vitamins (B vitamins and C) we need to consume really high amounts before we reach toxicity. This is because our kidneys are able to filter out any excess we may consume (this is where the expensive wee comes from). Problems can occur from fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K because they build up in our fat stores

Minerals can also build up in our bodies and you need to be mindful of overload from supplements. This is especially true for men. Due to the fact that men do not regularly lose blood through a menstrual period, it is not necessary for them to take an iron supplement and they must be careful when choosing a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement as most of them contain iron.

Be Supplement Smart
If you are currently taking supplements or think you should be ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I have special dietary needs that eliminate 1 or more food groups from my diet?
  • Could I eat more fresh fruits and vegetables?
  • Am I eating lots of fortified foods?
  • Why do I want to take a supplement? Tired? Stressed? Pregnant? Vegetarian?

Please stay turned for Part 3 to help you answer these questions.

I strongly recommend speaking to a health care professional such as an Accredited Practicing Dietitian or a Registered Nutritionist on whether or not a vitamin and mineral supplement is right for you.

Anyone Keen for Expensive Wee? Part 1

Nothing makes me more frustrated than the confusing nutrition messages from pharmaceutical companies on the nutritional need for supplements. Multi-vitamins, stress formulas, pregnancy platinum, they are all just different versions of vitamins and minerals in a pill. Most of the ones sold on the market today are unnecessary and because the body filters out excess vitamins, what you are really buying is very expensive wee!

We live busy lives, we feel tired, stressed, fatigued and run down. We don’t have time to eat properly and as such our diets don’t meet all our needs… Sound familiar? Marketing messages have made us believe that there is no possible way to ensure adequate nutrition and so if we take a pill, than our worries are over.

I will be writing a series of posts over the next couple of days on whether vitamin and mineral supplements are worthwhile or if you are better off saving your money. You might be surprised!

I would love to hear your thoughts, do you take vitamin and mineral supplements? Why or why not?