Sunday, 13 January 2013

When supplements make sense?

Some medical conditions and lifestyle factors can be alleviated by increasing your intake of certain nutrients. Here are some common situations that may call for higher-than-normal nutrient intake levels:

✓ Smoking: Smokers are thought to need an almost 50 percent higher intake of daily nutrients than non smokers. Cigarettes (and even pipe and chewing tobacco) are loaded with chemicals that react badly with the body. These chemicals can cause inflammation and disease, but the effects can be mitigated by consuming higher doses of certain nutrients, like vitamin C.

✓ Disease: Several diseases can harm your body’s ability to absorb and use nutrients, so you may need supplements to counter these effects. For example, gastrointestinal ailments may decrease nutrient absorption, and you may need to take supplements intravenously (under a doctor’s supervision, of course). Inflammatory conditions may require more antioxidants to help reduce swelling. Some nutrients can help slow the progress of cancer and other diseases as well as increase overall well- being.

✓ Medications: Certain medication classes can interfere with absorption of vitamins and minerals by disrupting either the transport or metabolism of certain nutrients. Anti-seizure medications, oral contraceptives, anti-inflammatories, and chemotherapy drugs are among those known to interfere with nutrient absorption.

✓ Occupational exposures: People who are exposed to chemicals in their work environment often have higher rates of vitamin deficiency. Toxic levels of metalscan cause deficiencies in both minerals and vitamins.

✓ Malnourishment: If you don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables or if your diet is high in trans fats, sugar, and other highly processed foods, you’ll probably need to take daily supplements until you get established on a proper diet. People with anorexia or bulimia also fall into this category. Vegetarians and vegans don’t necessarily fall into the malnourished category, but they do have some special needs based on their food intake. If you don’t eat meat or any animal products, you may need to consider supplementing your intake of vitamin B12, iron, calcium, vitamin D, and zinc.

✓ Alcohol or other drugs: Most drugs, including alcohol, cause a depletion of important vitamins and minerals. Alcohol can cause irritation of the stomach, which effects nutrient absorption. In addition, the empty calories from alcohol often replace healthy food intake, which can make vitamin and mineral deficiencies worse.

✓ Age: You can use more of certain nutrients as you get older. Studies have shown that people over age 60 can use almost 30 percent more B6, and vitamin D and calcium also should be taken in higher quantities. As
always, make sure you discuss supplements with your doctor before you start taking them.

✓ Pregnancy: This is an important time to get some extra nutrition. The female body shares nutrients with the fetus, so needing more than usual makes sense. Folate is particularly important for healthy fetus development. Although supplements can provide moderate amounts of various nutrients, the best way for your body to utilize nutrients is through a balanced, healthy diet with superfood additions. This, along with a healthy lifestyle, keeps your body in the best position to remain disease free.

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