Who Needs a Supplement?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 8,334
    Deborah Jeffery, registered licensed dietitian discusses how to understand different dietary supplements for men and women including who might benefit from a supplement.

    Deborah Jeffrey: Hi, my name is Debbie Jeffrey. I am a registered licensed dietitian. Today we are talking about understanding dietary supplements for men and women and right now we will be talking about who might benefit from a supplement. In general, if you eat a healthy diet and a wide variety of foods that include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lean meats and fish, you probably don't need a dietary supplement. But there are certain groups of people, who might benefit from a supplement and we will discuss those now.

    The first are people who don't have a healthy diet, who either don't eat healthy food or don't eat enough variety of healthy foods. And possibly you may fall into this group if you will eat a heavy diet of fast foods, if you skip meals or if your lunch is a candy bar or bag of chips, your diet might be lacking in nutrients. The best thing to do though is just to improve your eating habits. But, if that's not possible you may benefit from a dietary supplement. Having said that though, taking vitamins and minerals won't make up for things like a diet high in fat or a lack of exercise? If you are on a low calorie diet, generally 1200 calories or less, you probably could benefit from a supplement because as you limit the amount and the variety of foods on low calorie diets, you are also limiting the amount and the variety of nutrients that you are saving on that diet. People who smoke may need a supplement. When you smoke, it interferes with the digestion and absorption of certain vitamins and minerals, so you may need to include those in a supplement. However, these supplements will not make up for the long term health risk of smoking. Another group of people who could benefit are those who drink alcohol excessively because like smoking, drinking interferes with some of the absorption of vitamins and minerals. And sometimes when people drink excessively, they substitute the alcohol for food and then they are not getting enough nutrients in their diet. Now you might be surprised by what the definition of excessive drinking is. For a women or anyone over the age of 65, excessive drinking is more than one drink a day. For a man, it's more than two drinks a day. If you are trying to get pregnant or are pregnant, your body needs more nutrients generally calcium, folic acid and iron, so you want to make sure you are either getting those in your diet or if you can't, you may need to supplement. If you eat a special diet, if you have food allergies or you have a lot of food intolerances and you can't eat a wide variety of food, you may need to get your nutrients through dietary supplements. Or if you are a vegetarian and you haven't carefully planned your diet, your food traces may mean that you are diet is low and things like calcium, iron, zinc, vitamins B and D, so there again you may need a supplement. If you can't absorb nutrients properly and this happens sometimes with people who have either had diseases of the liver or pancreas or the intestinal track or if they have had surgery on their digestive system, they may not be able to absorb nutrients properly and again dietary supplement might be the way for them to get the nutrients that they need. And the last group of people are those who are 65 years old or older. Sometimes with age, the body's ability to absorb certain vitamins and minerals has decreased. Also this is a group that generally have eating problems or depression or problems with dentures that impair their ability to eat a wide variety of foods and they could benefit from a dietary supplement. Next we are going to be talking about vitamins and minerals that women may need to supplement in their diet.