“Pills are not a shortcut way to a better health and for the prevention of chronic diseases” Says a nutritionist who is actively advocating people for healthy eating, while another nutritionist suggest that you must take supplement to compensate the daily Recommendation Nutrient Intake (RNI) that is not met. Are you familiar with this situation? The question is how do we go about? Do we need supplementation, or we need not supplementation?
The answer to these questions is MAYBE. Yes, perhaps you need supplementation or perhaps you do not need supplementation. In this article we are focusing on healthy adult (man and women), not for those special need people who really need supplementation as per recommended by medical professionals.
When it comes to nutrition supplement there are various school of thoughts. Here is the baseline, for healthy adult, the MOST IMPORTANT thing in order to maintain healthy health is by EAT HEALTHILY, there comes another question, how do I eat healthily since it is really confusing when it comes to healthy food?
Bottom line for healthy food is easy, eat three servings of vegetables and two servings of fruits per day. Limit your fat and sugar intake especially from the sugary beverages. Make sure the cooking method is the healthy cooking method such as blanching, steaming or grilling and lastly individual should exercise regularly for at least 150 minutes of exercise five times per week (1,2).
Waittttt a momenttttt, after you read the above and ponder upon our current living situation, you might then again think, this is hardly possible, there are people who is working in shift schedule there are people who work 7AM to 6PM with no time to prepare meal on their own, there are people who have many other commitment whom by all means eating just mean to shove food under their throat and be full with it!
Example of healthy plate.
Of course, as a nutritionist I am the biggest supporter of healthy eating over vitamin and supplementation but looking back at our current situation, we need to instead advocate people on how to choose supplement that is suitable for themselves and how to know whether they need supplements or not?
There are few guidelines set by Harvard School of Public Health on to know the kind of supplementation that we need to take and our body sign of needing supplement (3,4).
- Say no to ‘high dosage’
By saying no to high means that, any supplement that provide high dosage of vitamins and minerals need to be out of the list. Check you recommended nutrient intake (RNI) from your nutritionist and take only supplement that is equivalent to that. (E.g: RNI for vitamin C for adult both male and female is about 70 mg, thus choose your vitamin C supplementation around this amount). In order to identify what are the supplements that is right for your health, you need to identify your eating pattern. If you are picky eater, then you need to identify what are the foods that you usually do not consume be it vegetables, fruits, protein based etc. Then from that, nutritionist will then identify what are the nutrients that you probably miss from your eating pattern, nutritionist will then suggest intake of vitamins that is suitable for your eating pattern. As an example, as for those who do not eat vegetables, these group of people might have lack of fibre and as well as antioxidants in their diet thus taking fibre supplement or probiotics might help. As for people who hardly take protein-based food such as fish, poultry, and meat, they are at risk of lacking B-Complex vitamin. Thus, a single multivitamin is not an answer to all, every eating pattern must be observed to come up with supplements needed to compensate whatever loss.
- Say no to ‘super’
There are, many supplements on the market claiming on various health effects especially those on the TV and internet. Most of these are only based on testimonials saying that they are ‘super’ vitamins etc for health. Do not be swayed by this wild health claims. If it sounds too good to be true, you can be sure they are! Save your money for something even beneficial like healthy food and good vacation for your mental health!
- Say no to ‘cure’
Most of the vitamins or supplements are meant to compensate what is loss and to alleviate some of the health problems, once there is strike of an illness usually there is just no turning back, e.g: Diabetes, it is a life long health problem, where a patient with diabetes need to control their sugar intake for life long, thus need to take care their diet.Thus, it is the management of the disease that is important to not make it even worse, so here is how diet, supplements, and physical activity play an important roles. However, for some other illness such as occasional joint pain, the intake of certain supplement might help but then again it is case to case basis.
- Holistic Care
Most people regard supplement as super pill, where they think if they consume these supplements, they do not have to eat healthily or even exercise. Oh dear, let me tell you that is all just so VERY WRONG! Every nutritionist must ensure their customers or patients understand, that by taking supplements it means that, they still need to eat healthily and exercise, supplements just meant to to-up whatever vitamins that they do not get from their poor eating habit. Which explain, if you are eating well, have good range of weight, not a picky eater, do not have problem in understanding on how consuming healthy food means, by all mean you do not have to consume supplements, just continue eat healthily and exercise but for those who is showing symptoms of lethargic, scurvy, severe weight loss, poor appetite, hectic schedule, poor eating habit etc these are the people who need to consume supplements!
In Conclusion, in our hectic lifestyle today, supplement is very much essential in maintaining good health. Try by your all means, to understand on how to eat healthily, but if often times you find that you fail in doing so, perhaps it is time for you to consider supplements taking. But, do not forget to consult, health professionals, such as medical doctor and nutritionist before you take any supplements!
- Jennifer Warner (2012). WebMD. 30 Minutes of Daily Exercise is enough to shed pounds. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/news/20120824/30-minutes-daily-exercise-shed-pounds (Accessed on June 25, 2020)
- Edward R. Lawoski (2019). Mayo Clinic. How Much Should The Average Adult Exercise Every day ? https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/expert-answers/exercise/faq-20057916#:~:text=For%20most%20healthy%20adults%2C%20the,of%20moderate%20and%20vigorous%20activity. (Accessed on June 25, 2020).
- Harvard T.H Chan. School of Public Health. The Nutrition Source. Nutrition Insurance Policy: A Daily Multivitamin. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/multivitamin/ (Accessed on June 25, 2020).
- Org. Vitamins: Hype or helps for healthy eating. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/vitamin-supplements-hype-or-help-for-healthy-eating#:~:text=%E2%80%9CA%20supplement%20will%20generally%20provide,healthy%20food%2Dbased%20diet.%E2%80%9D (Accessed on June 25, 2020).