For many decades, scientists have always believed that a balanced diet is all you need to get adequate nutrition. They hated the idea of swallowing vitamin pills regularly. However, after conducting many studies on this topic, researchers are starting to say that vitamin pills are, in fact, beneficial to humans.
A study conducted at the University of Washington in 1995 found that folic acid can prevent heart attack and stroke. The researchers said that a daily supplement of folic acid would prevent thousands of deaths every year.
Many of you might be thinking that you have already led a healthy life. You might be thinking that vitamin pills and supplements are not necessary for you at all. On the contrary, you would be surprised to find out how your intentional habits can actually increase the need for supplements in your body.
Do you follow a protein-rich diet to lose weight?
Being slim is a good thing. However, some weight-loss methods can cause deficiencies in your body. For example, on the Atkins diet, you would be eating lots of proteins and fewer carbohydrates. This diet avoids fruits, vegetables, grains, and cereals. These foods are well known for being a good source of vitamin B. Having a protein-rich diet leads to a deficiency of a type of vitamin B called folate. Folate is known as folic acid in its synthetic form.
Adequate levels of folate have been found to lead to a lower risk of heart attack, stroke, and some cancers. A deficiency of folate significantly increases a woman’s risk of having a baby with certain devastating birth defects. You may need supplements of folic acid and calcium if you follow a protein-rich diet to lose weight.
Natural sources of folate include whole grains, bean sprouts, and potatoes, to name a few. Breakfast cereals like corn flakes also provide a good amount of folate. Add low-fat or skimmed milk to your corn flakes, and you would be meeting your calcium requirements too.
Does a disease run in your family?
You would be glad to know that some studies suggest vitamins and minerals can protect you against serious diseases in the future. If you take a supplement, you may be able to avoid a heart attack that killed your grandfather or cancer that shortened the life of one of your family members.
Cardiovascular diseases: B vitamins reduce the effect of homocysteine, a substance that clogs arteries and sets the stage for heart attacks and strokes. Vitamin E is also important for the prevention of heart diseases. Maret G. Traber, a well-known researcher from the Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon says, “If I had a family history of heart disease and I wanted some extra insurance, I’d take vitamin E.”
If you have a history of heart disease in your family, consider taking a pill with 200 to 400 IU of E, and a multivitamin with B-6, B-12, and 400 micrograms of folic acid.
Cancer: A mineral called selenium is believed to lower the risk of prostate cancer, and perhaps other cancers too. Men with high levels of selenium had half the risk of developing prostate cancer compared to men whose levels were low. Consider taking a pill containing 200 micrograms of selenium daily, and this might do you some good.
Do you walk for exercise?
If you depend on low-impact activities for exercise, like walking, swimming, or cycling, don’t count on your skeleton staying strong for the long run unless you also do some high-impact exercises like skipping rope or jogging. You may need to take calcium supplements to prevent your bones from getting weak or to protect against fractures. Studies suggest that calcium can prevent colon cancer, lower blood pressure, and might keep your kilos off.
A glass of milk is a good source of calcium. Calcium is also found in cooked spinach and dried fish. Young adults should get 100 micrograms of calcium daily. Women should get 600 micrograms and men should get 400 micrograms. If you think you may be short of vitamin D, choose a combo of calcium and vitamin D for your supplement.
Do you drink alcohol at dinner?
Studies suggest that drinking alcohol regularly at dinner increases your risk of colon cancer. Women who drink more than two drinks daily may increase their chances of developing breast cancer by 40%.
A number of studies suggest that if you get plenty of vitamin B, you will reduce the chances of getting colon or breast cancer due to alcohol. Some studies found that protection starts in your body at 400 to 600 micrograms of folate.
You can consider taking a multivitamin containing 400 micrograms of folic acid to prevent the harmful effects of alcohol in your body.