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Food nutrients: Are you getting enough?

By Jay Mehta
April 06, 2016 12:16 IST
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Supplements are no replacement for a healthy diet. However, erratic eating habits can result in chronic lack of essential nutrients.

Here's how to refill the loss of important nutrients when you can’t eat them.

Food nutrients: Are you getting enough?

Photograph: Creative Commons

Life's moving very fast and so are we. Work stress, irregular diet, regular junk food and irregular vegetables and fruits consumption, preservative rich foods, irate dieting, forgotten exercise schedules, etc. are all creating a big gap in everybody's lifestyle, thus advancing and accelerating diseases early.

Indeed, there is a disruption happening in everyone's lifestyle with rise of imbalance of high impending stress levels and ebbing nutrition levels, culminating to invisible health problems. There are television ads telling you Jiyo Jee Bhar Ke (Live life to the fullest). There are hot yoga practice videos launched every week to keep you healthy. But the real issue is that in our daily lifestyle we are missing some very important constituents which are the real fuel for the body.

Looking at the current lifestyle of any urban citizen, it's obvious that deficiencies in one's body exist. Looking at the multiple factors involved in a typical urban lifestyle, the need for a substitute for organic food is essential.

Prevention is better than cure, is the mantra for today's young workforce.

It's the new uber cool thing happening to consume products which assure you a life that gives you a freedom to enjoy and lead a productive and vigorous lifestyle. To prevent before health is ruined is the clear principle which has been taken up seriously by most. The focus now is to increase the quality of life and essentially living a healthier lifestyle.

More and more people have started resorting to multivitamin supplements. The nutrients missed need to be earned and regained. To refill this lost wealth of nutrients, most doctors prescribe multivitamin supplements.

There is a big catch in the menace of health supplement consumption as no tangible metrics exist to map the right deficiency of the nutrients. Somewhere the message is clear that consuming vitamins and minerals in today's time needs to be started at a young age. The human body requires such supplementation on a daily basis to keep one healthy and functioning at the highest possible level.

Before the start of any vitamin or health supplement consumption, the right question to be asked is what the actual deficiency is and what is required.

Doctors also need to create emphasis on trying to understand what kind of health supplement treatment should be considered for different set of people. A normal doctor's prescription for multivitamins or health supplements is more of a carpet strategy, where one size fits all approach is considered.

Before preferring any brand or product claiming to be a health supplement, the first question is to ask the amount of vitamins and minerals it contains.

An array of novel and innovative products flurrying in the markets, is evident of growing demand to stay healthy and fit.

Numerous health supplements, vitamins and minerals have now thronged the chemists to cater to the deficiencies perceived.

However the all-time questions permeate like which supplements are right for one, how much and why?

The requirement of health supplements and vitamins change with age

It is given that the requirements of health supplements vary from individual to individual based on the body makeup, lifestyle and diet, nature of job, any underlying disease or deficiency and level of stress. So these factors stand out to be clear parameters in analyzing the requirement of vitamins and health supplements.

The journey of making vitamins and health supplements your daily friend very first starts with a self-analysis of the key symptoms of your deficiencies. It mostly starts with one feeling tired easily or feeling weak often, or lacking enough stamina.

What are the basic supplements one should take?

Let us try to understand the basic categories of health supplements which can be consumed for a well maintained lifestyle.

When it comes to calcium, women should start taking calcium supplements mostly after the age of 35. The key reason is that in a female's body after the age of 35, generally bones start falling weak due to loss of calcium. Also post menopause, the condition adds to the problems of weak bones.

Antioxidants that are produced by the body as a defense are capable of handling daily life stress; however they are produced in small amounts and need to be supplemented externally. So it is certainly advisable to start the detox therapy of antioxidants at an early age of 25. Major antioxidants can be availed from Vitamin C, Vitamin E, green tea, etc.

It is recommended to take as much as 1000 IU of Vitamin D supplements per day in the fall and winter when sunlight exposure is limited and otherwise 400 IU of Vitamin D daily, for adults aged 19 to 50. Getting your vitamin D (along with calcium) in your 20s will help boost your bone strength, and then maintain it once you enter your 30s and 40s.

For women in their childbearing years, folic acid is also recommended if you're planning on conceiving anytime soon. It is good to ensure pre-pregnancy high levels of folic acid because low rates of folic acid can cause a number of birth defects and recommended dose is 400 micrograms.

Iron is another key consideration for menstruating women. The iron deficiency commonly occurs in pregnant women, causing anemia, which can result in fatigue and weakness.

Young women should take about two capsules of fish oil containing Omega 3s. They protect against inflammation, which is at the heart of many chronic diseases, including heart disease and stroke, Omega 3 fatty acids are also a major component of our brain and nervous tissue and can be important for developing fetuses.

Strict vegetarians may need extra B12 and folic acid supplements as well. B12 is present in eggs and dairy, so vegans should get this nutrient from supplements at a young age.

Get insured early, prevent health problems early and enhance your quality of life.

Lead image used for representational purposes only. Image: Equipe Integrada/Creative Commons

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Jay Mehta