Your Life: Your A to Zinc of Dietary Supplements; WALK into Any Chemist or Health Food Store and You'll Find Yourself Surrounded by Miracle Pills and Cure-All Potions Claiming to Put a Spring Back in Your Step. but beyond the Hype, How Much Can Vitamin, Mineral and Botanical Supplements Actually Deliver? and How Can We Know What We Really Need from Them?

Coventry Evening Telegraph (England), February 15, 2007 | Go to article overview

Your Life: Your A to Zinc of Dietary Supplements; WALK into Any Chemist or Health Food Store and You'll Find Yourself Surrounded by Miracle Pills and Cure-All Potions Claiming to Put a Spring Back in Your Step. but beyond the Hype, How Much Can Vitamin, Mineral and Botanical Supplements Actually Deliver? and How Can We Know What We Really Need from Them?


Byline: By Karen Ham bridge

DR ADAM CAREY, head of nutrition at the Rugby Football Union, says that with certain vitamins and minerals, normal dietary levels are not enough.

"The reason is not because most people don't eat any green vegetables," Carey says. "It's actually because the nutritional content of the food we eat is now significantly reduced to what it was 50 or 100 years ago."

Modern farming techniques - including the use of fertilisers and pesticides - mean modern food is less full of vitamins and minerals than similar produce even one or two generations ago, Carey explains.

"We're seeing a gradual erosion of the nutritional content of food, in everything from the vitamin C content of oranges through to the zinc and copper levels in corns and other grains."

And those nutritional deficits are beginning to show - Carey says one in 10 young adults is deficient in one or more vitamins and minerals, with the numbers rising to 33 per cent in the elderly.

"While I would very much like to be in a world where I could encourage my children to eat only fruits and vegetables and good sources of meat, the reality of that is that we are sorely lacking in a number of areas," he warns. "And so supplementation may have a role to play."

But a note of warning - don't mix supplements and prescribed medications without medical advice. Some supplements counteract the effects of prescription medication.

And don't take multiple hits of any one supplement - for example, taking a multivitamin and a B-complex pill may mean you're way over the recommended daily dosage.

Fact File - DIET SUPPLEMENTATION

Do I need to take anything?

IT isn't as easy as just popping a pill. If you are feeling not quite right, your first move should be to make an appointment with your GP, Carey says, not your local pharmacy.

If your doctor doesn't find anything awry, it might be time to consult a nutritionist: "Starting to improve your diet and your lifestyle might have significant benefits."

And improving the quality of food intake is key.

"Most people have, out of choice, a very poor-quality diet. Not because all the food out there is bad, but because they just make bad choices."

If problems still exist, supplements may be the answer, Carey says.

"Single bullet approaches in health are often not fantastically successful. It has to be part of a constructive approach in terms of a very healthy diet, some exercise, but recognising that you may need additional support."

When to take supplements

WHILE average, healthy adults may want to try improving their diet and lifestyle before turning to supplements, Carey says there are certain times in life when vitamins and minerals are crucial to maintaining health and wellbeing. …

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Your Life: Your A to Zinc of Dietary Supplements; WALK into Any Chemist or Health Food Store and You'll Find Yourself Surrounded by Miracle Pills and Cure-All Potions Claiming to Put a Spring Back in Your Step. but beyond the Hype, How Much Can Vitamin, Mineral and Botanical Supplements Actually Deliver? and How Can We Know What We Really Need from Them?
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