Thoughts on Vitamins

Should you take vitamins or supplements on a regular basis?
Lauren weighs in

Having spent the last two years studying nutrition, I’ve realized that my opinions on certain topics have changed. One topic in particular is whether or not people should take vitamins or supplements on a regular basis.

Here’s my opinion on the subject: If you eat a healthy diet 80 percent of the time – comprised of  a variety of fresh, raw fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, wild fish and organic animal protein –  and limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol, then taking a variety of supplements (for example B50 complex, multi-vitamin, vitamin C) on a regular basis is not necessary.

The balance of vitamins and minerals in your body is very delicate. If you start taking a zinc supplement for example, you’re in danger of throwing off that delicate balance. Have you ever walked by someone’s desk at work, and it’s covered in vitamin bottles? It’s because they’ve started messing around with the balance and have to keep taking more supplements to try and re-balance their bodies. That can be dangerous to your health and to your wallet; supplements are expensive!

That being said, part of my job as a future nutritionist is to help people with imbalances, and that can mean taking supplements for a period of time. For example, some people just don’t have enough healthy bacteria in their gut, and may experience gastro-intestinal symptoms such as bloating or gas after meals or IBS. Once this imbalance is identified, I would probably recommend a good pro-biotic supplement to help re-balance the body.

Or if a client suffers from anxiety or mood issues, I may recommend a B100 complex or Evening Primrose Oil to help fix those imbalances. (Keep in mind these recommendations depend on many other aspects of the individual.)

I do have a few exceptions to my supplement rule:
1. Omega-3 is difficult to get from food (especially if you don’t like fish), and I think it’s okay to take 1000 mg of omega-3 daily. Make sure it’s from a good brand and is pharmaceutical grade and molecularly distilled.
2. Vitamin D is hard to get enough of during a long, harsh Canadian winter. 1000 mg daily during the winter is okay; again.
3. Folic Acid: if you’re pregnant, breast-feeding or trying to get pregnant,, I would recommend 400mcg – 1000mcg of folic acid daily.

I went through all my vitamin posts from the last two years and updated them, so if you’re looking for a little weekend reading, check them out!

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