It’s hard to have a perfect diet every day. A daily supplement gives you the extra nutrients you may need—especially if you lead an active lifestyle.
For your body to complete all the tasks it needs to do in a normal day, you must give it a wide variety of vital nutrients. Through proper nutrition, your body should receive the recommended daily value of vitamins and minerals. If you become deficient in any one of these essential nutrients, the result can be a breakdown of the metabolic pathways and this can lead to a decrease in performance. As an athlete, this is not what you need. Active people require more nutrients than the average non-active person.
Health experts agree that the best way to achieve your nutrient and mineral needs is with a balanced diet. However, research indicates that we often fail to meet these needs through diet alone. Our typical diets fall short on achieving the recommended intake of fruits and vegetables. According to the Canadian Community Health Survey, in 2014 only about four in 10 Canadian adults reported they consumed fruits and vegetables five or more times per day. Multivitamins can ensure that nutrient levels are always reached, no matter what your nutritional intake is on a particular day.
What supplements do athletes need?
Experts agree athletes need to ensure they meet their daily needs of vitamins C, D and B.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects your body from free radical damage, vitamin D is important for healthy bones and B vitamins help extract the energy your body requires from the food you eat.
Researchers have found that supplements help adults meet the recommended daily intake of some minerals, while another study found that children and teens (ages 9-18) taking supplements had an increase in their micronutrient status in their diets.
More recent research has found an association between multivitamin and mineral use of greater than three years and reduced cardiovascular disease mortality risk for women. Another study found that a daily multivitamin supplement reduced the risk of total cancer in middle-aged and older men.
What to look for in a multivitamin and mineral
It is important to choose a multivitamin that is specific to your health needs. Gender and age-specific multivitamins can help you address the needs your body may have at different stages of your life. Men and women have different nutrient needs. Therefore it makes sense that men and women’s multivitamins are going to have differences.
Choose whole food multivitamins that contain the vitamin complexes as they exist in nature and look for products that contain non-GMO ingredients and are free of artificial sweeteners, colours and preservatives.
Although the best way to obtain your vitamins and minerals is from a healthy diet, adding a multivitamin and mineral supplement may offer you some “insurance” because it’s challenging to eat right every day.
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Author: Dr. Joyce Johnson is a Naturopathic doctor with WN Pharmaceuticals and is the educational services manager for Eastern Canada. She is also a regular contributor on supplements and nutrients to Optimyz magazine in print and digital.