Some recent news stories caution supplement use as a practice worth rethinking, suggesting there are no measurable health benefits from store-bought vitamins or supplements for healthy individuals. This is based on the premise that Canadians are eating properly, as outlined in the Canadian Food Guide. However, a limited number of Canadians consume the amount of high-quality, nutrient-rich foods to meet this bare minimum.
Michele Sevier, doctor of natural medicine and director of education at Nutrition House, believes this misleads Canadians and offers up advice on what your mind and body need to achieve better health and nutrition. Here are the questions she recommends asking yourself so you can lead your healthiest and most nutritious life, responsibly. Again, aim to get as many vitamins and minerals as you can from nutrient-dense foods, and check with your doctor before taking any supplements.
‘ Do you consume 7 to 10 everyday? Canada’s Food Guide recommends 7-10 servings of fruit and vegetables every day for adult women and men. This is to ensure the minimum requirements are met. Canadians can meet this minimum requirement by consuming vegetable and fruit smoothies, adding fruit to their cereal or blending vegetables into soup. The reality, however, is that most Canadians struggle to meet this target every day.
‘ Are you taking prescribed drugs? Numerous over the counter and prescribed drugs can cause nutritional deficiencies. Oral contraceptives, for instance, make women increasingly susceptible to becoming deficient in magnesium, B6, B12 and Vitamin C.
‘ How does your mind and body respond to stress? The daily grind of life can deplete the body of much needed B vitamins. The average Canadian does not have the resources to adequately measure which foods, and how much of it, will offset stress levels. Supplements or a daily vitamin can provide the mind and body with nutrients insurance when needed most – especially if time and energy to prepare meals are limited.
‘ Are you a smoker? Smoking interferes with the absorption of vital vitamins and minerals. In fact, nearly 1 in 6 Canadians still smoke. Unless the nutrients are being re-added into diet through supplementation, deficiencies can develop even if the daily-recommended intake of vitamins and minerals are consumed through food. For instance, smoking is a significant determinant of low serum vitamin D in young males and depletes the skin of the oxygen and essential nutrients it needs to be healthy.
‘ Are you vegan or vegetarian? Non-meat eaters naturally run the risk of developing deficiencies of essential nutrients, specifically vitamin B-12 and iron. With 12 million Canadians reportedly vegan, vegetarian or opting to lower meat intake, supplements provide the adequate insurance to lead a healthy, fulfilling life.
Go to besthealthmag.ca/vitamins to see what Health Canada recommends for the general adult female population, ages 31-50.