Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

Taking a vitamin or mineral supplement may be something you are considering, especially if you find it difficult to eat a variety of foods. Due to the various functions of vitamins and minerals, the supplement industry has tried to encourage supplement use by physically active people. However, multivitamin and mineral supplements do not appear to enhance performance in healthy, well-nourished individuals. A multivitamin and mineral supplement is useful if:

♦ You have an existing vitamin or mineral deficiency.

♦ You have poor dietary habits. In this case, increase the amount of nutrient dense foods and food variety in your diet!

♦ You are exposed to extreme environmental conditions, such as cold climates or high altitudes (Chapter 12).

Buying Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

Some facts to know before buying a supplement are:

♦ Amount of Nutrients - Take a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement that supplies nutrients in amounts close to the RDA/DRIs (Chapter 2). Excessive amounts of a single nutrient can cause a deficiency of other nutrients. Avoid "high potency" supplements.

♦ Natural Versus Synthetic Vitamins - Both forms can be used by your body, but if a supplement is labelled "natural" it costs more.

♦ Expiration Date - Avoid supplements that expire in 6 months.

♦ Stress tablets are a marketing ploy.

♦ Men should not take iron supplements, unless directed by their doctor.

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