Why do we take supplements?
We all try our best but really when was the last time you managed to eat 5 portions of fruit and veg in a day? (Even Team GP try their hardest but we don’t always get a full daily dose of greens). This is where supplements can come in handy and help us keep key nutrients topped up whilst we lead our bust modern lifestyles.
Just remember supplements are not there to take they place of a varied diet, they’re to help ‘supplement’ it.
Why is it important to get the dosage right?
We are all unique in our individual requirements; with each person needing a slightly higher or lower dosage than the next. It is important to remember that there is no real advantage from getting more of a certain vitamin and mineral than your body needs. In fact, any excess of water-soluble vitamins (all B vitamins) are quickly excreted in urine and will rarely accumulate to toxic levels. An exception is water soluble Vitamin C, which can cause diarrhoea if taken in excess. So, you would literally be flushing money down the drain!
Fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E and K. When they are consumed, before going to the bloodstream, they are first dissolved in fat. Your body uses what it needs and then stores anything extra in the liver and in the fat tissues. If they are continuously taken in large amounts, vitamin toxicity can occur, or a condition called ‘hypervitaminosis’, which can be acute or chronic. This is a rare condition, however it can be serious and cause some side effects like diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, dehydration, weakness, fatigue, stomach pain, loss of appetite, vision changes. If left untreated it can lead to more serious health problems, like liver or kidney damage.
How should you take them?
It’s important to pay attention to the recommended dosage on the supplement label. Make sure to always read the directions, as some supplements are better taken with food and at a certain time of day. For example, for better absorption, certain supplements should be taken with food and fat soluble vitamins absorb much better when consumed with a meal containing healthy fats.
The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) is the amount of the vitamin or mineral that you need to keep healthy and to stay well nourished. The Upper Tolerable Intake Level is the maximum amount you can have each day causing no adverse effects. Most toxicities are from getting too much of a certain vitamin or mineral from a supplement, not from food. This is why it is so important to make sure you know the amount you are taking, and be sure that you actually need the supplement. Getting a blood test through your medical practitioner is an excellent way to test your vitamin and mineral levels.