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Dowereallyneed to Do we really need to supplement our diet? There are many conflicting "reports" about nutritional supplements. GP and nutritionist Dr Sarah Brewer and Rob Hobson, Healthspan'ss head of nutrition address some of the frequently asked questionhead of nutrition address some of the frequently asked questions.

Supplements are of proven benefit for treating nutritional deficiency diseases Supplements are of proven benefit for treating nutritional deficiency diseases Rob Hobson and Dr Sarah Brewer Rob Hobson and Dr Sarah Brewer | DOES EVERYBODY "NEED" TO TAKE SUPPLEMENTS? SUPPLEMENTS, as the name suggests, are there to help supplement a diet that may be lacking in certain nutrients, and of course food should always come first.

| DOES EVERYBODY "NEED" TO TAKE SUPPLEMENTS? SUPPLEMENTS, as the name suggests, are there to help supplement a diet that may be lacking in certain nutrients, and of course food should always come first.

In an ideal world, we'd all get all the vitamins and minerals we need from our diets. But in reality, few achieve this, and our diet can change from one week to the next depending on many different lifestyle factors, including cutting back meals to losing weight.

In an ideal world, we'd all get all the vitamins and minerals we need from our diets. But in reality, few achieve this, and our diet can change from one week to the next depending on many different lifestyle factors, including cutting back meals to losing weight.

The National Diet and Nutrition Surveys show that significant numbers of people do not get the reference nutrient intake (RNI) for many micro-nutrients. Even for those who consciously eat healthily, the nutritional content of many foods is depleted compared with how it was even a few decades ago.

The National Diet and Nutrition Surveys show that significant numbers of people do not get the reference nutrient intake (RNI) for many micro-nutrients. Even for those who consciously eat healthily, the nutritional content of many foods is depleted compared with how it was even a few decades ago.

For example, selenium intake has dropped by 50% in the last 20 years For example, selenium intake has dropped by 50% in the last 20 years due to the sourcing of wheat from low selenium areas; the beneficial fatty acid content of meat and eggs is significantly lower in animals that have been intensively reared; fish consumption's dropped by 50% in 60 years which is having dramatic effect on the intake of omega 3 fatty acids. An increase in refined grains has also seen a drop in B vitamins, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc.

due to the sourcing of wheat from low selenium areas; the beneficial fatty acid content of meat and eggs is significantly lower in animals that have been intensively reared; fish consumption's dropped by 50% in 60 years which is having dramatic effect on the intake of omega 3 fatty acids. An increase in refined grains has also seen a drop in B vitamins, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc.

| DOES A MULTI-VITAMIN TICK | DOES A MULTI-VITAMIN TICK ALL THE BOXES, OR SHOULD PEOPLE CHOOSE SPECIFIC SUPPLEMENTS? A BROAD spectrum multi-vitamin and mineral will provide a cost-effective "back-up" to cover most needs, but some people may benefit from additional supplements ALL THE BOXES, OR SHOULD PEOPLE CHOOSE SPECIFIC SUPPLEMENTS? A BROAD spectrum multi-vitamin and mineral will provide a cost-effective "back-up" to cover most needs, but some people may benefit from additional supplements if they choose to exclude certain food groups from their diet.

if they choose to exclude certain food groups from their diet.

Examples include vegans, who will benefit from taking a vegan omega 3 supplement as, without oily fish, it's difficult to obtain sufficient essential fatty acids. Vegans also benefit from a vitamin D supplement (normally found in dairy, oily fish and eggs) and a vegetarian source of vitamin B12. Over-50s may benefit from eating more foods fortified with Vitamin B12 or taking a multi-vitamin that contains B12.

Examples include vegans, who will benefit from taking a vegan omega 3 supplement as, without oily fish, it's difficult to obtain sufficient essential fatty acids. Vegans also benefit from a vitamin D supplement (normally found in dairy, oily fish and eggs) and a vegetarian source of vitamin B12. Over-50s may benefit from eating more foods fortified with Vitamin B12 or taking a multi-vitamin that contains B12.

People who don't consume enough calories and enough fruit and vegetables could benefit from a multi-vitamin and mineral, and people with a medical condition that affects how their body absorbs nutrients may need additional supplements. Plus, women who experience heavy periods may need an iron supplement.

People who don't consume enough calories and enough fruit and vegetables could benefit from a multi-vitamin and mineral, and people with a medical condition that affects how their body absorbs nutrients may need additional supplements. Plus, women who experience heavy periods may need an iron supplement.

| DO DOCTORS ADVOCATE PEOPLE TAKING SUPPLEMENTS? MOST health professionals understand the benefit of using supplements sensibly and when necessary. For example, folic acid during pregnancy, vitamins A, C and D for children aged under five, iron | DO DOCTORS ADVOCATE PEOPLE TAKING SUPPLEMENTS? MOST health professionals understand the benefit of using supplements sensibly and when necessary. For example, folic acid during pregnancy, vitamins A, C and D for children aged under five, iron to treat iron-deficiency anaemia and calcium for those at risk of osteoporosis. Different GPs have different special interests, and a growing number are studying for a diploma, or even a Master's degree, in nutritional medicine. There's still a "knowledge gap" on nutritional supplements in everyday general practice among GPs, practice nurses and health visitors.

calcium for those at risk of osteoporosis. Different GPs have different special interests, and a growing number are studying for a diploma, or even a Master's degree, in nutritional medicine. There's still a "knowledge gap" on nutritional supplements in everyday general practice among GPs, practice nurses and health visitors.

| ARE ALL SUPPLEMENTS PROVEN TO BE BENEFICIAL AND HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU'RE BUYING FROM A RELIABLE SOURCE? | ARE ALL SUPPLEMENTS PROVEN TO BE BENEFICIAL AND HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU'RE BUYING FROM A RELIABLE SOURCE? WHEN required, supplements are of proven benefit for treating nutritional deficiency diseases. The most famous is vitamin C and the prevention of scurvy but this condition is rarely seen in the UK.

WHEN required, supplements are of proven benefit for treating nutritional deficiency diseases. The most famous is vitamin C and the prevention of scurvy but this condition is rarely seen in the UK.

We do however have growing numbers of children being diagnosed with rickets, which is associated with lack of vitamin D, and osteoporosis which can be associated with poor calcium intakes. Nutritional supplements are then used as part of conventional medical treatment.

We do however have growing numbers of children being diagnosed with rickets, which is associated with lack of vitamin D, and osteoporosis which can be associated with poor calcium intakes. Nutritional supplements are then used as part of conventional medical treatment.

When buying supplements, choose a long-standing reputable retailer - it's important to check they When buying supplements, choose a long-standing reputable retailer - it's important to check they are made to a pharmaceutical standard known as GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) as this confirms they contain exactly what's stated on the label. Similarly, when buying a traditional herbal medicine, it's important to look for the THR (Traditional Herbal Registration) certification sign. A licensed traditional herbal medicine will also contain a Patient Information Leaflet detailing how to take them, possible side-effects, known interactions and advice about who should not use them.

medicine, it's important to look for the THR (Traditional Herbal Registration) certification sign. A licensed traditional herbal medicine will also contain a Patient Information Leaflet detailing how to take them, possible side-effects, known interactions and advice about who should not use them.

| IS IT POSSIBLE TO OVER-DOSE ON SUPPLEMENTS? IT'S a common myth that "taking more will have greater effect". The body's only able to take what it needs; the remainder will ether get passed out in urine or stored in fat within the body. Safe upper limits are recommended for most vitamins and minerals, and it's important not to exceed these. With certain supplements, there may be adverse effects to taking more than the advised dosage.

| IS IT POSSIBLE TO OVER-DOSE ON SUPPLEMENTS? IT'S a common myth that "taking more will have greater effect". The body's only able to take what it needs; the remainder will ether get passed out in urine or stored in fat within the body. Safe upper limits are recommended for most vitamins and minerals, and it's important not to exceed these. With certain supplements, there may be adverse effects to taking more than the advised dosage.

Make sure you read the pack carefully and adhere to dosage recommendations and any additional information supplied.

Make sure you read the pack carefully and adhere to dosage recommendations and any additional information supplied.

| WHAT IF YOU'RE PREGNANT - SHOULD YOU AVOID ALL SUPPLEMENTS? PREGNANT women are advised to take a 400mcg folic acid supplement during the first three months of their | WHAT IF YOU'RE PREGNANT - SHOULD YOU AVOID ALL SUPPLEMENTS? PREGNANT women are advised to take a 400mcg folic acid supplement during the first three months of their pregnancy, as well as 10mcg of vitamin D throughout the entire pregnancy and while breast-feeding. Any other supplement should only be taken on the advice of your GP, midwife or pharmacist.

pregnancy, as well as 10mcg of vitamin D throughout the entire pregnancy and while breast-feeding. Any other supplement should only be taken on the advice of your GP, midwife or pharmacist.

| IF YOU TAKE SUPPLEMENTS IS IT OK TO HAVE AN UNHEALTHY LIFESTYLE - LIKE CARRY ON SMOKING? | IF YOU TAKE SUPPLEMENTS IS IT OK TO HAVE AN UNHEALTHY LIFESTYLE - LIKE CARRY ON SMOKING? IT'S not advisable to think that supplements will "balance out" an unhealthy habit like smoking.

IT'S not advisable to think that supplements will "balance out" an unhealthy habit like smoking.

You should always aim to adopt a healthy lifestyle; that includes the right diet and keeping active.

You should always aim to adopt a healthy lifestyle; that includes the right diet and keeping active.

However, this isn't always possible and if you know your diet and lifestyle is not However, this isn't always possible and if you know your diet and lifestyle is not as good as it should be, supplements may help bridge the gap.

as good as it should be, supplements may help bridge the gap.

| SHOULD PEOPLE ALREADY ON MEDICATION SEEK ADVICE FROM THEIR DOCTOR BEFORE TAKING SUPPLEMENTS? | SHOULD PEOPLE ALREADY ON MEDICATION SEEK ADVICE FROM THEIR DOCTOR BEFORE TAKING SUPPLEMENTS? YES, you should always seek advice when taking medicines.

YES, you should always seek advice when taking medicines.

| CAN SUPPLEMENTS CURE DISEASES? | CAN SUPPLEMENTS CURE DISEASES? SUPPLEMENTS can only cure a deficiency disease - for example, vitamin C can cure scurvy. Supplements cannot "cure" other health problems such as high blood pressure or heart disease, but SUPPLEMENTS can only cure a deficiency disease - for example, vitamin C can cure scurvy. Supplements cannot "cure" other health problems such as high blood pressure or heart disease, but they can complement the conventional medical treatment.

they can complement the conventional medical treatment.

| HEALTHSPAN'S TOP THREE SUGGESTIONS | MULTIVITALITY Gold contains over 27 vitamins, minerals and micronutrients to help support good nutrition, PS4.95 for 90 tablets.

| HEALTHSPAN'S TOP THREE SUGGESTIONS | MULTIVITALITY Gold contains over 27 vitamins, minerals and micronutrients to help support good nutrition, PS4.95 for 90 tablets.

| Nu-TRI Foundation contains 18 essential vitamins and nine micronutrients, plus omega 3s and live friendly bacteria, PS9.95 for 28-day supply | Cerebrum is an Omega 3 supplement suitable for vegans and vegetarians, PS14.95 for 90 capsules.

| Nu-TRI Foundation contains 18 essential vitamins and nine micronutrients, plus omega 3s and live friendly bacteria, PS9.95 for 28-day supply | Cerebrum is an Omega 3 supplement suitable for vegans and vegetarians, PS14.95 for 90 capsules.

All from www.healthspan.co.uk

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Supplements are of proven benefit for treating nutritional deficiency diseases

Rob Hobson and Dr Sarah Brewer
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 6, 2014
Words:1982
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