Dietary supplements are very popular. Consumers spend more than one billion dollars a year on food supplements. Most of the preparations are useless, at least for normal people. In the worst case, the often overdosed capsules, effervescent tablets, and juices can even harm you.
However, Australia’s first choice for nutritional supplements can be useful for certain risk groups and in exceptional situations. We explain in which cases the most popular nutritional supplements make sense.
Sun vitamin D is currently the subject of much discussion. It is called this because the body uses sunlight to produce most of the vitamin (80-90%). Small amounts can also be ingested through food, especially fatty fish, egg yolk, and liver.
It has been proven that vitamin D keeps the bones stable and contributes to tooth preservation. The vitamin is therefore also suitable for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. Scientific studies have also shown that good vitamin D supply can protect older people from falls and bone fractures.
So far, there is no scientific evidence for other claims, such as the fact that the additional administration of vitamin D prevents cancer, diabetes, depression, cardiovascular diseases or infections.
Who needs an extra serving of vitamin D?
If you have enough sun in the summer, your depot should last for the winter. Then you don’t need to swallow vitamin D supplements.
It can be different if you have always applied for high UV protection or have completely avoided sunbathing. The skin also forms vitamin D in the shade, early in the morning or in the evening and even when the sky is overcast, which is why staying in the fresh air is always a bit of a vitamin D shower. But in fact, general practitioners see more cases of vitamin D deficiency in their practices today than in the past.
Risk groups for vitamin D deficiency
If you belong to one of the following risk groups and you have a proven vitamin D deficiency, the replacement can be correct and important. The German Society for Nutrition currently sets the maximum daily dose at 800 international units (iE):
Take vitamin D only if you have a proven vitamin D deficiency.
Seniors over 70 and the very elderly often have a pronounced vitamin D deficiency. In old age, the body can no longer produce the sun vitamin adequately. Older women, residents of nursing homes and sick people over the age of 80 are a high-risk group for severe vitamin D deficiency. Supplementation is really important for this target group.
People who hardly go outside and never let daylight on larger areas of skin are also at risk. This is why children and adolescents can also have a vitamin D deficiency. The doctor decides to what extent the deficiency needs treatment. Sometimes a change in lifestyle and eating habits helps.
Infants are given prophylactic vitamin D. The reason is obvious: babies should not be exposed to sunlight. In addition, breast milk contains very little amount of vitamin that protects the little ones from dreaded rickets. If this disorder of bone metabolism occurs in adults, one speaks of osteomalacia.
It is well known that calcium is important for bones and teeth. The mineral is also used for the function of muscles and nerves and for blood clotting.
Since calcium is found in a number of foods, especially dairy products, you can confidently avoid supplementation. As a rule, you will even live a healthier life because many calcium supplements are dosed too high. Overdoses due to a very high calcium intake can lead to kidney stones in the long term, and vascular calcifications cannot be ruled out.
Calcium deficiency pointers
Are you vegan or do you have lactose intolerance? Are you a woman after menopause or older than 65? Then you belong to a potential risk group for calcium deficiency. The National Consumption Study II has shown that, above all, many female adolescents and seniors from the age of 65 are significantly below the recommendations.
Menopause and age are risk factors for calcium deficiency. Unlike a vitamin D deficiency, however, you can make up for deficits in calcium supply relatively easily via ordinary foods. In addition to milk and milk products, green vegetables such as broccoli and nuts contain a lot of calcium. In addition, many soy products are enriched with calcium.
It would be too nice to get through the year without a cold. However, it has not been proven whether zinc preparations can help you, as is often promised. That we rely on zinc is undisputed. The trace element is involved in practically all life processes and plays a major role in our immune system.
Since zinc is found in many foods and we only need small amounts, zinc deficiency is rather rare in this country. Rather, there is a risk that we will exceed the recommended daily maximum amount (7 mg for women, 10 mg for men, and 11 mg for pregnant women). And that’s not without danger: Ultimately, zinc is a heavy metal and, if overdosed, can lead to symptoms of intoxication and change the white and red blood cells.
Zinc is mainly found in meat, fish, cheese, and eggs. If you don’t eat that because you eat vegetarian or vegan, and/or suffer from severe stress. Then you could potentially have a slight zinc deficiency. This risk also exists if you cannot take in enough zinc due to chronic gastrointestinal disease. If you use zinc-containing food supplements, please pay attention to the amount.
Magnesium is one of the top sellers among nutritional supplements. The mineral is involved in energy metabolism, muscle, and nerve function. If the body is missing, this can lead to muscle cramps and fatigue. With lots of vegetables and whole grains, you don’t need magnesium-containing supplements.
Magnesium deficiency can occur particularly in old age and whenever a lot of fluid is lost, for example, due to drainage and laxatives. Alcoholics and people with gastrointestinal disorders can also suffer from deficiency symptoms. In these cases, supplementation can be useful.
Magnesium supplements are often overdosed, which can lead to diarrhea and a drop in blood pressure. Therefore always ask a doctor for advice. Officially, an additional magnesium intake of 250 mg per day is recommended.
Just like for calcium, the following applies to magnesium: overdosing via food is not possible, but it is possible via high-dose food supplements.
Try to keep your diet moderate and wholesome so you may never have any deficiencies. If your body gives you the signs of deficiencies then consult your nutritionist and get the supplements to keep you healthy.