You may be thinking, 'How could I possibly need vitamins? I eat really well and take great care of myself!'
First of all, well done. Making the effort to look after your health is an important and worthwhile investment, and it's a brilliant start - however, our environment and other factors beyond our control can impact on our nutritional status and welbeing.
There are many compelling reasons to take nutritional supplements - read on for more information, and we invite you to contact Stay Well Pharmacy for further advice.
The reasons outlined below are by no means an exhaustive list, and there are numerous other factors that can have an impact on your nutritional status. For individualised advice and support, contact the friendly team at Stay Well Pharmacy today!
With thanks to Nutrition Care Pharmaceuticals, specialists in nutritional and herbal medicine.
Even if your diet's great, your digestion may be lagging. Ineffective digestion can lead to poor vitamin uptake.
Common causes of poor digestion include not chewing food well enough, and eating too quickly. Both lead to large food particles that are tough on the body's digestive enzymes. If you have dentures, you may find it particularly hard to chew efficiently.
Many of us don't feel like ourselves without a good cup of coffee! However, habitual consumption of too-hot liquids or an excess of irritants including coffee, tea, pickles and spices may inflame the lining of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, causing a decrease in digestive fluids and poorer nutrient extraction from your diet.
Just as with coffee, many of us enjoy a little alcohol as part of a healthy, balanced life. However over-indulgence, whether habitual or occasional, causes damage to the liver and pancreas - both organs vital to digestion and metabolism. In addition, damage to the lining of the gut can lead to malabsorption and even sub-clinical malnutrition.
Regular alcohol use increases the body's need for vitamins A, C and the B group as well as zinc, magnesium and calcium.
Smoking is a destructive habit on so many levels, and your body's nutritional status is just one of them. Tobacco use irritates the GI tract and increases the body's Vitamin C requirement by at least 30%. If you're ready to quit smoking, Stay Well Pharmacy is ready to help. We're Quit Card and NRT providers - contact us today for smoking cessation support.
Overuse of laxatives hastens transit time through the bowel, resulting in poor absorption of vitamins and minerals from food. Paraffin and other mineral oils increase losses of fat soluble vitamins A,D, E and K; many other laxatives, used to excess, cause large losses of minerals like sodium, potassium and magnesium, with potentially serious consequences.
Some well-known but ill-advised diets cut out whole food groups and therefore can be seriously lacking in key nutrients. Even the more mainstream and popular low-fat diets, taken to the extreme, can be deficient in vitamins A, D, E, and K, which are crucial for functions including protecting eyesight, bone strength and immune function. Vegetarian diets must be skilfully planned to avoid vitamin B12 deficiency, which can lead to anaemia.
Some people are naturally light or picky eaters, even if not choosing to diet to reduce weight. Low energy intake is associated with deficiencies in nutrients like thiamine, calcium and iron.
Physical trauma, surgery, infection and stress all increase the body's need for a variety of vitamins and minerals. An adequate intake of calcium and vitamin C is essential for the repair of broken bones. Fighting infection demands good reserves of zinc, magnesium and vitamins B5 and B6. All types of physical trauma require a good protein intake and general nutritional status for those vital healing processes. Chemical, physical and emotional stresses increase the body's need for vitamins B2 (riboflavin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine) and C.
The way that we process, store and cook our food affects the quality and quantity of nutrients available to our bodies.
Freezing and other methods of food preservation keep our food safe to eat for lengthy periods, making life easier - but that's at the cost of some of the important vitamin content. Vitamin E is particularly affected by freezing and reheating, as are vitamins C and B1. Foods that are highly processed before they even reach our pantries often lose a lot of their precious vitamin content as their ingredients are highly refined.
Overcooking and reheating meat and vegetables can oxidise and destroy heat-sensitive vitamins like the B group, C and E. Boiling vegetables progressively leaches out minerals and water-soluble vitamins - the B-group and C again. Microwaving food can also damage or destroy nutrients via irradiation. Light steaming and careful cooking is preferable to reduce nutrient loss.
Adolescence and pregnancy are two very different stages in the human lifespan, but both are periods of rapid growth that place heavy demands on the body, including the need for higher intake of some essential vitamins and minerals.
Teenagers, particularly girls, need plenty of nutritional support to weather the accelerated physical, biochemical and emotional development they're experiencing. Studies have shown that anywhere between a quarter and half of teens experience deficiencies in vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron.
Pregnancy demands higher than average levels of many nutrients to ensure baby's healthy development, as well as the health and vitality of Mum. The list of required nutrients is lengthy and includes B-group vitamins (especially folic acid in the first trimester), vitamins A, D, and E, and the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus. In addition, expectant mums in NZ are encouraged to supplement their iodine levels for baby's healthy brain development. Pregnant women are encouraged to seek professional nutritional advice for the best outcomes for mum and baby.
Use of some medications can affect the body's need for a variety of vitamins and minerals. Your body's nutrient uptake can be altered by the actions of pharmaceuticals or the conditions these substances create in the body. Two very common examples are antibiotics and oral contraceptives.
Antibiotics are vital for fighting infection in the body, but in the process they also kill off friendly bacteria in the gut. Healthy intestinal flora has a lot of important jobs in the body, including the production of B-group vitamins which are then absorbed through the intestinal wall. During antibiotic treatment, especially lengthy courses of broad spectrum drugs, it may be advisable to supplement with B-group vitamins and/or probiotics. Your Stay Well Pharmacist is happy to advise - just ask when you fill your script!
Oral contraceptives ('the Pill') can decrease the absorption of folic acid, as well as increasing your body's need for vitamin B6, vitamin C, zinc and riboflavin, nutrients which help balance the Pill's actions on your system.
The ten reasons above are just some of the most common reasons you might need nutritional support in the form of supplements. No matter how well you care for your health, factors including your unique biochemistry, periods of high activity, and even environmental issues like sunlight levels and soil depletion can cause you to need a little 'boost' to keep you at peak wellness.
The team at Stay Well Pharmacy are committed to helping you Live Well - Stay Well - talk to us today for tips on maximising your health and vitality!