Vitamin and Mineral Preparations: Meaningful or Waste of Money?

Vitamin and mineral preparations are recommended in many cases. Iodized table salt and omega-3 fatty acids for those who do not eat fish several times a week, iron and folic acid in pregnancy, vitamins C and Zinc for cold prevention, zinc for seniors and multivitamin supplements with a generally unfavorable dietary composition: In all these cases supplementation From nutrients beyond the daily diet makes sense, said Birgit Junghans, graduate oecotrophologist of the German Institute of Nutritional Medicine and Dietetics (DIET) in Bad Aachen.

Frequently lack of supply of certain minerals

The discussion about the meaning and necessity of dietary supplements such as vitamin and mineral supplements leads to an insecurity of the consumer and the patient whose doctor advises on such a product. There are, on the one hand, the representatives of healthy nutrition who vehemently reject such products as superfluous and money-making.

On the other hand, there are the people whose diet consists mostly of fast food, high-fat foods, and little fresh herbal ingredients, trying to balance their gross nutritional mistakes with a range of pills and powders.

This polarizing view neglects that in Germany there is often a lack of supply of certain minerals and the fact that different living conditions make a sufficient intake through the food much more difficult, so Junghans.

Feeding in the form of vitamin or mineral supplements often makes sense

In many cases, a supply in the form of vitamin or mineral preparations is useful, sometimes even absolutely necessary. Overall, the intake of minerals and trace elements has declined in recent decades as a result of the increased consumption of industrially processed foods in western industrialized countries. Here, only 15 percent of the food energy comes from food in unchanged form, which have their natural mineral content. 40 percent of the food energy comes from fat and oil, 20 percent from sucrose, 10 percent from alcohol and 15 percent from white flour.

It's quite possible to cover all of his vitamin and mineral needs with optimally compounded food, according to Junghans, but the figures above indicate that this is still a desired goal that most of the population is far from achieving. A balanced diet that meets all of your needs is not easy to do and requires a sound understanding of foods and their ingredients, as well as the amounts that the human organism needs on a daily basis.

Increased demand among high-risk groups

The situation is aggravated by the fact that a low-meat diet leads to a desired reduction in unfavorable saturated fatty acids, but at the same time means an undesirable reduced iron absorption. Vegetarians often have healthier body weight, adequate fiber intake, good vitamin C supply, but often lack B vitamins, zinc and iron.

In various situations, such as pregnancy or lactation, the need for some nutrients is significantly increased and adequate care is not possible. These include in particular folic acid and iron.

Similarly, older people often have an increased need for certain nutrients, but have a decreasing appetite and a lower energy requirement due to less physical activity.

Reasons for unbalanced diet in everyday life

Optimal nutrition is not always guaranteed in everyday life. Reasons can be:

  • lack of time
  • Lack of knowledge about foods and their ingredients
  • Personal aversion to certain foods such as fish
  • Canteen meals, meals in schools or kindergartens
  • Chafing problems in the elderly or purchasing and preparation options limited by physical weakness
  • In children the preference for few dishes, refusal of fruits and vegetables

Recommended maximum levels for dietary supplements

As good as supplements can be in some cases, one should always keep in mind that even vitamins and minerals can cause negative health consequences if they are permanently overdosed. Therefore, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) has issued recommendations on maximum levels of vitamins and minerals in food supplements, which should not be exceeded.

Conclusion: dietary supplement in certain cases makes sense

The best intentions and intentions do not help much if they can not be implemented in reality. Dietary supplements can be quite legitimate here and, as a supplement, close the gaps that arise in the daily diet. However, they are not to be misunderstood as an alibi for a reckless diet, warns Junghans.

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