supplements you need
Vitamins, minerals, fat burners, amino acids—supplements crowd store shelves, gym bags, and newsfeeds, but do we actually need them? And if so, which ones? We do need to consume a wide variety of vitamins and minerals to be healthy. These are considered “essential” because our bodies cannot make them on their own. In theory, we can get all of these essential vitamins and minerals through the foods we eat, by eating a balanced diet containing a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. It’s possible. Does that mean you do?
Considering 2015 National College Health Association Data from FAU indicate only 5% of FAU students get the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables per day, it’s possible many of us aren’t getting some of these essential vitamins and minerals. Of course, the “easy” answer to this problem is to follow more balanced meal patterns (incorporate more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein sources, and low-fat dairy), but we all know this is easier said than done. Despite knowing we need to eat fruits and vegetables, and best intentions of eating, sometimes we don’t get enough for a variety of reasons. This is when taking a certified (for safety) multivitamin can be a quick and easy (and somewhat expensive) way to make sure you don’t become vitamin or mineral deficient. However, there are a variety of other benefits of eating food over eating supplements, but sometimes we wind up reaching for supplements instead. Check out some of these situations below and see how eating food can be the more appropriate option over taking supplements.
Common Reasons People Reach for Supplements:
Energy – Vitamins don’t actually give you energy. Energy is something we get from calories (think back to science class: Calories or kilocalories are units of energy). B vitamins do help your body use what you take in from food to feel energized, but if you don’t eat enough calories, it’s likely you won’t feel energized regardless of how many B vitamin supplements you take. In addition, our energy level is influenced by a few different factors, including sleep, exercise, and stress, so getting enough calories and vitamins is only part of the broader picture.
Hair, Skin & Nails – You may know a B-complex vitamin is typically used in this area as well, and it’s true: being deficient in some of the B vitamins may have damaging effects on your hair, skin, and nails, but getting extra doesn’t necessarily do much. In fact, B vitamins are water-soluble, so if you get too much of them, you’re going to pee the extra out (and it will likely be bright yellow). Not getting enough energy can be damaging here too, as our skin, hair, and nails are built by protein; so if you’re not getting enough in your diet, you could see effects in these, as well as other areas. Sun exposure, age, products you use, and hydration can also affect the appearance of your hair, skin, and nails.
Working Out – Check out a post from a few weeks ago on fueling up before and refueling after your workout and here is a list of some of the claims made about commonly used exercise-related supplements with notes about whether or not research has proven them to be accurate.
Weight Loss – Weight loss supplements may include some vitamins, but usually other potentially harmful chemicals as well. Overall, these have been shown to cause more harm than good. Among other things, taking weight loss supplements does not help you build healthy behaviors to promote long-term health. Stay tuned for more articles highlighting the difference between focusing on weight versus focusing on overall health.
Make sure to check out our recipes for quick, easy, inexpensive ways to work a variety of vitamins and minerals into your routine, and as always, keep following our posts for more nutrition tips. Contact FAU’s Registered Dietitian for more information.