It’s a sad fact that maintaining a very healthy diet is an expensive exercise. Fruit, vegetables, lean meats, and good diary products cost money, and starches and grains are simply a cheaper option.
While most can find a balance between fruit and veg, and more unhealthy foods, sometimes dietary supplements are useful to boost what the food we eat may not provide, especially if you’re living a fast-paced life.
Some vitamins, like vitamin D, are not easily found in food. Unless you eat very fatty fish, like tuna or mackerel, on a regular basis, this is one vitamin you’re not getting from your food. In fact, 80 percent comes from exposure to sunlight.
A vitamin D supplement, while not often used by people in sunny climes, is good for people who live in places where winter is especially bleak, or skins are not exposed to enough sun, due to indoor jobs.
Another supplement that has some value is calcium. Lactose intolerant people, or those who opt not to eat dairy, like vegans, may not get their required calcium intake. It’s vital for bone health, and for staving off osteoporosis as you age. But beware, too much calcium can increase the risk of kidney stones or strokes.
What of vitamin C? It’s found in many foods and beverages, and your body can only absorb so much of it, but it’s generally a safe bet. If your diet already includes food rich in vitamin C, a supplement may not be needed, as any excess is expelled in urine.
As a general rule, doctors will say getting vitamins through food is better than using pills. But B vitamins are often an exception. B12, which is only found in meat and eggs, could need boosting, while folic acid and iron are often better absorbed when they come in pill form.
It’s good to do your research though, as some ‘fad’ supplements are of little to no scientific value, and can even be detrimental. Always speak to your doctor before starting a supplement regime, no matter how innocuous the pills may seem.
In the interest of our patients, in accordance with South African law and our commitment to expertise, MediHub cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.