Vitamins and minerals are crucial for the normal functioning of our cells. Each of these compounds has several physiological and biochemical roles.
Unfortunately, many people suffer from nutritional deficiencies, which may lead to dire consequences, especially in severe cases.
In the recent past, the prevalence of deficiencies was extremely high due to poor dietary choices and socioeconomic conditions. To counter this phenomenon, many governments around the world chose to fortify common foods with vitamins and minerals.
For instance, salt is commonly fortified with iodine since its deficiency causes goiter and other thyroid gland problems.
Despite these efforts, there is still a substantial number of patients that present to the doctor’s office with signs and symptoms of a nutritional deficiency.
In this article, we will highlight the importance of including supplements in your daily routine and how they could significantly improve your quality of life.
Why do you need vitamins and supplements?
Inside your cells, millions of biochemical reactions occur every second.
These reactions serve multiple purposes, including:
The synthesis of necessary compounds
For these metabolic reactions to occur, they need substrates and enzymes as mediators (e.g., vitamins, minerals, enzymes, coenzymes).
Therefore, you need to have sufficient amounts of these nutrients in your bloodstream to ensure that your cells are functioning properly.
While most vitamins and minerals are involved in some chemical reactions inside the cell, not all supplements fall into this category since some may serve other functions, such as improving digestion (e.g., fiber).
Do you really need to buy these supplements?
The short answer is: Yes.
Supplementing your body with these substances depends on whether you have a deficiency or not. Some medical conditions require patients to take some vitamins and supplements. For instance, undergoing a surgical procedure known as a gastric bypass (removal of the stomach) is a formal indication to take vitamins B9 and B12 supplements.
Other conditions such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis may also require dietary supplementation.
Note that your physician might prescribe these vitamins and supplements even if you don’t have a documented medical condition; simply having a low bone mineral density might be a reason to start taking calcium and vitamin D supplements.
Another physiological condition that requires supplementation is pregnancy. During pregnancy, the fetus is going through a process known as organogenesis to create his/her new organs. This process is very costly when it comes to energy and needs a lot of vitamins and supplements.
One of the primordial vitamins at this stage is vitamin B9 since it is vital for the development of the baby’s nervous system.
In fact, the World Health Organization recommends that all women of reproductive age start taking vitamin B9 to prevent any neurological abnormalities in the newborn.
Finally, people who start doing high-intensity training to compete on a professional level may also need supplements to cover the increasing needs of their bodies.
Common supplements that promote healthy living:
In this section, we will cover some vitamins, minerals, and substances that your body needs to function properly.
Promotes muscle growth and strength - Vitamin D interferes with the process of muscle growth after strenuous physical activity. Many athletes started taking this supplement to promote their lean muscle mass and physical performance. Increases bone mineral density - As you will see later in the article, the primary complication of vitamin D deficiency is low bone mineral density, which predisposes to a myriad of health problems, especially in the bones and joints. Today, women in their postmenopausal phase or old individuals are advised to take vitamin D supplements to prevent osteoporosis. Promotes weight loss - According to one study, supplementing your body with vitamin D can significantly boost your basal metabolic rate, which eventually leads to substantial weight loss.
While the evidence of this study is still preliminary, these findings are promising and warrant further research.
Iron is an indispensable mineral in the production of red blood cells and immune cells. It also mediates several biochemical reactions that interfere with immunity, energy production, and wound healing.
Copper mainly aids with wound healing and minimizing scarring by promoting new vessel formation.
Researchers believe that introducing copper to wound dressings can significantly accelerate the wound healing process.
Zinc is an essential mineral, which means that your cells cannot produce it. Here are some benefits of zinc:
Immune system optimization
The production of red blood cells
The neutralization of free radicals
Ginger offers a myriad of health benefits that include reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in cells.
Moreover, ginger proved to be helpful for patients with fertility issues.
In a 2012 study, researchers picked 75 males who suffered from fertility issues and made them take ginger supplements for 3 months.
By the end of the study, researchers noted an average increase of 17.7% in serum testosterone levels of participants.
Additional evidence suggests that ginger supplements may even improve sperm quality.
Our ancestors used turmeric since the early days of modern humans for medicinal purposes. The main driver behind turmeric’s popularity is the potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that reside within its active compound – curcumin.
This compound helps people sleep better.
Ashwagandha offers many health benefits, including stress relief, better sleep quality, and a reduction in the risk of inflammatory conditions.
In a 2019 randomized study, scientists noted that supplementing your body with 300 mg per day improves sleep quality and sleep onset latency.
The underlying mechanism that led to these findings is still vague, but researchers believe that it might be due to Ashwagandha’s anxiolytic properties.
Takeaway message - Supplements are vital to help our bodies maintain their normal function. However, we should be careful when surfing the web since it’s full of misinformation and false claims about products that don’t even work.
I hope that this article managed to clear some of the confusion surrounding this topic. However, if you have any questions about the compounds listed above, feel free to send me a message on Instagram.
In good health,
BHSc Naturopath (Distinction) The Feel Good Society Founder & Head Practitioner