Vitamins natural organic compounds needed to support normal physiological processes. There are 13 essential vitamins, needed in small amounts to carry out normal daily function.
They are essential because our body simply can’t produce enough vitamins to support cellular demand. That is why it is crucial we get those vitamins from our diet.
Vitamins are generally classified as either fat-soluble or water-soluble. The 13 essential vitamins are A, C, D, E, K; and the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folate).
Minerals are inorganic compounds that are necessary, like vitamins, to carry out normal physiological functions. Minerals are much simpler in chemical form and are relatively more stable compared to vitamins, which can be destroyed by exposure to heat, chemical reactions or even sunlight.
There are essential minerals our body needs, and they are generally classified as macro-minerals or micro-minerals, depending on the amount needed.
Some essential minerals: calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, zinc and iodine
Why use a multivitamin mineral supplement?
First, it is not to replace proper diet. Supplements only ensure adequate intake of essential vitamins and minerals that are not acquired through diet. Always consult your physician, as overdosing on certain vitamins and minerals can lead to toxicity, which can wreak havoc on your body.
Where vitamins and minerals are concerned, more is definitely not always better.
Your goal should always be to get your essential nutrients from your diet. A healthy diet should be rich in vegetables and fruits.
However, there are times you will not be able to get all the nutrients from food alone.
Inadequate nutrient intake may arise from sickness; stress (including stress from exercising); poor quality of fruits and vegetables (due to poor nutrients in soil and environment grown); or just not eating enough (veggies can be quite filling).
These may be good reasons for supplementation.
If you are to supplement, here are some guidelines:
Make sure a multivitamin/mineral supplement is derived from whole food sources.
Make sure it contains natural forms of vitamins instead of synthetic forms, like in the case of vitamin E.
Make sure it falls within the recommended nutritional dosage, and if it doesn’t, that the dosage is not anywhere near toxic levels.
One can’t talk about fish oils without hearing about how it is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. It is particularly rich in EPA and DHA, which are forms of omega-3 fatty acids. So what is all the fuss about still?
Fish oils are essential for cardiovascular and brain/nervous system health. Like with vitamins/minerals, deficiencies in omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to certain health problems, such as memory loss.
Our cell membrane is made up of a phospholipid bilayer, the key word being lipid. Fats, especially omega-3, help maintain the integrity of that membrane, which leads to better transfer of nutrients into and out of the cell. If you have a poor cell membrane, it will be more difficult to transport nutrients across the cell.
It’s easier to get omega-6 fats, because generally they are in the plants and animals we eat. Foods such as plant oils, meats, and processed food contain omega-6 fatty acids.
The major problem of our current diet is that we eat way too much omega-6 in comparison to omega-3. If your diet includes lots of meat, processed food and fast food, you are probably ingesting more omega-6 than you need. Like anything in life, there has to be balance.
I’m a big advocate of getting most if not all nutrients from food. Eating about one to two fish servings per week (113 g or 4 oz = 1 serving size) is what most health experts recommend.
However, eating more servings is perfectly fine, especially if it’s a protein source. It is a great idea to substitute fish for meats because fish generally has less saturated fat and fewer calories per serving.
If you are unable to get enough omega-3 from your diet, supplementation may be a viable option. However, always consult your physician before taking any fish-oil supplements.
I prefer the liquid form to the capsule form because it’s quick and easy to take. If you want to avoid the fishy taste of the liquid, take capsules. You may need to take more than one capsule to get the proper amount.
The point is, do what works best for you and follow the instructions on the label. It is worth noting that studies that yielded positive effects of omega-3 supplementation used dosages of 5g or more.
Filipino-American coach Randy Gruezo is the founder and president of No BS Fitness Solutions LLC, a New York City-based fitness consulting company. Visit www.nobsfitnesssolutions.com.