How to Know if You Should Be Taking Supplements

Article posted in: Diet & Nutrition

When it comes to living healthy, there are certain things you know you should do: Drink plenty of water, eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, exercise. There is no disputing that these things are essential to good health. But not everything is so cut and dry. There is some good-for-you gray area. For instance, should you be taking vitamins or minerals?

According to the recently released 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, most people don’t need supplements to live healthy and reduce their risk of chronic disease. This source explains that you can get all the nutrients you need by eating a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods (think fruits, veggies, lean proteins, low-fat dairy and whole grains).

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The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics supports this notion, stating that most nutritional needs can be met through a balanced diet. However, there are some folks who may need to rely upon vitamins or mineral supplements to meet their needs.

If you are on a weight loss plan, like Nutrisystem, we recommend taking a multivitamin, just to be sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need while you’re slimming down.

Other reasons you might need to take vitamins? We’ve got you covered here:

You Are Over 50

As we age, there are certain nutrients that become even more important. Calcium and vitamin D are extremely important since they can help preserve bone health. If you’re not consuming three servings or vitamin D-fortified low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt or cheese a day, or loading up on calcium-rich foods like fortified cereals, fruit juices, canned fish with soft bones, or dark leafy green veggies, you may want to consider a calcium supplement that contains vitamin D. Other important nutrients for the fifty-plus crowd? Vitamin B12, fiber and potassium.

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You Are Vegan or Vegetarian

Since vitamin B12 is primarily found in animal products, individuals who don’t eat animal products may need to take a B12 supplement. Calcium may also be a concern although vegans can meet their calcium needs by adding fortified soy milk or rice milk with some ready-to-eat cereals, or by consuming juice or tofu. Some leafy green veggies, broccoli, almonds, beans and soybeans. Since few foods naturally contain high levels of vitamin D, and some that do (think eggs and vitamin D-fortified cow’s milk) may be off limits to some vegetarians and vegans may want to consider supplementing vitamin D.

You of Child-Bearing Age or Are Pregnant

Women who are of child-bearing age should make sure they are getting enough folic acid. This nutrient helps reduce the risk of having a baby with birth defects. Pregnant women should be mindful of consuming sufficient amounts of all nutrients. However, it is especially important that pregnant women get enough folic acid, iron, calcium and Omega-3 fatty acids.

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If you think you may need to take supplements with your diet, you should always consult with your doctor or a registered dietitian nutritionist before getting started. If you are on the Nutrisystem program, you should be able to meet your daily nutrient needs by adding in a wide variety of nutrient-dense grocery additions. However, we do recommend taking a multivitamin since it is a reduced calorie program.