According to Statistics Canada, 47.3% of Canadian adults aged 19 and older consume supplements, compared to 38.5% among children and youth. Supplement consumption is common among Canadians for various reasons. Many people take them to "improve their health," protect against certain diseases, or when their fruit and vegetable intake is inadequate. But does taking supplements really make a difference to our health?
No study has proven the effectiveness of taking supplements to improve cardiovascular health. Taking vitamin C to protect against colds or the flu also does not seem to be beneficial according to studies.
Here are 5 valid reasons for taking supplements:
1. Seniors and Osteoporosis
Since calcium is important for bone health, it is important for individuals aged 65 and older to take calcium supplements to prevent falls and bone frailty. If you have osteoporosis, a calcium supplement would be important.
2. Canadians Aged 50 and Over
It is recommended for all Canadians aged 50 and over to take a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D is found in certain food sources such as vitamin D-fortified milk, fatty fish, and some cooked mushrooms. Most of our vitamin D is absorbed through exposure to sunlight, and we can agree that sunlight is not very abundant in Canada.
3. Vegetarians/Vegans - Nutrient Deficiencies
By cutting out food groups from our diet, we are at a higher risk of certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies, such as vitamin B12, iron, zinc, omega-3s, calcium, and vitamin D. It is important to ensure a good dietary intake of these nutrients and to take necessary supplements in case of deficiency.
4. Pregnant Women
To ensure proper fetal development, pregnant women are recommended to take prenatal multivitamin supplements, folic acid, and iron.
5. Medical Diagnoses
If you have malabsorption issues, nutritional deficiencies, anemia, or other medical diagnoses, taking supplements can be useful depending on the cause of the problem.
For the majority of healthy individuals, vitamin and mineral supplements would be unnecessary when having a balanced and varied diet. Some vitamins and minerals from food are better absorbed by our bodies than those from supplements due to their bioavailability. The health benefits are more effective through dietary intake.
Feel free to consult our nutritionists if you have specific vitamin and mineral deficiencies. They can guide you better towards appropriate food sources.