Essential supplements for good health
Today, supplements are being widely used to substitute natural nutrients. However nutrients from food are sometimes more readily absorbed and used by the body than those in a pill. Here’s a guide to the nutrients that are vital for good health.
In order to stay healthy everyone needs a balance of nutrients in their body. However, in today's busy world people prefer to use vitamins and supplements in order to get the nutrition they need. According to doctors it is not advisable to take supplements as they cause more harm than good. Furthermore, nutrients from food are sometimes more readily absorbed and used by the body than those in a pill. Here’s a guide to the nutrients that are vital for good health.VITAMIN A
Vital For: Sight and bones, and to make infection-fighting white blood cells. Despite lab studies suggesting anti-cancer properties, there’s no evidence that A protects against tumours.
Recommended Daily Amount (RDA): 0.7mg for men; 0.6 for women.
Good food sources: Pumpkin, carrots, sweet potato.
Risks from taking supplements: In smokers, 20mg a day has been linked to a greater risk of lung tumours. Long-term intake of 1.5mg a day increases the risk of osteoporosis. Vitamin A causes birth defects, so avoid during pregnancy.
Vital for: Healthy metabolism, immunity and nervous system. Recent study found B6 and B12 stalled brain shrinkage linked to dementia; B6 and B12 also shown to reduce homocysteine, a chemical linked to cardiac risk. But studies suggest greatest benefits in reducing the risk of heart disease occurred only in those whose levels were low.
RDA: B6, 1.4 mg a day for men, 1.2 mg for women; B9, 2mg for adults; B12, 0.0015mg for adults.
Good food sources: Wholegrain foods and fortified cereals. Meat, eggs and dairy products are only reliable dietary sources of B12.
Risks from taking supplements: Taking more than 200mg of B6 can cause nerve damage.
Vital for: Bones, teeth, gums and blood vessels. No evidence supplementation prevents colds except in those exposed to severe cold or bursts of heavy physical activity.
Good food sources: Red peppers, citrus fruit, broccoli.
Risks from taking supplements: The Food Standards Agency advises against taking more than 1,000mg a day. Too much can cause headaches and diarrhoea.
Vital for: Healthy bones and teeth. Evidence it protects against heart disease, some cancers, diabetes and asthma, and even helps weight control.
RDA: None set because most of our intake comes from sunlight.
Good food sources: Fatty red meat (sausages), oily fish, eggs, margarine.
Risks from taking supplements: A daily intake of 25-50mcg may increase risk of kidney stones.
Vital for: Energy.
RDA: 8.7mg for men, 14.8mg for women.
Good food sources: Red meat, beans, dried fruit, egg yolk, oysters and mussels.
Risks from taking supplements: Avoid taking more than 17mg daily as this could cause nausea, diarrhoea and block uptake of calcium and zinc.
Vital for: Protecting against cardiovascular disease.
RDA: None set, but the FSA advises girls, women who may conceive or those who are pregnant or breastfeeding to eat two 140g portions of oily fish weekly; boys and men should eat four.
Good food sources: Oily fish.
Risks from taking supplements: Depending on the supplement source, toxins in fish.