Why Take Vitamin and Mineral Supplements? . . . a good answer, from HealthNoters.
Vitamin and Mineral Supplements for Healthy People
The following is an excerpt from HealthNotes®, the web based reference resource that can be accessed from the Willner Chemists Web Site, www.willner.com.
HealthNotes® can also be accessed at the Willner Chemists stores. HealthNotes® is a complete, authoritative reference source, and Willner Chemists is pleased to make this resource available.
On the web site, additional detailed information is available on each topic discussed in the following overview article.
Why take vitamin and mineral supplements?
Supplements may help healthy people for a number of reasons. They can help prevent vitamin and mineral deficiencies when the diet is not adequate to provide all necessary nutrients. They can also provide amounts of nutrients larger than the diet can provide. Larger amounts of some nutrients may help to protect against future disease. Many of these nutrients will be briefly discussed here. However, for more information, refer to individual nutrient articles.
People may consume diets that are deficient in one or more nutrients for a variety of reasons. The typical Western diet often supplies less than adequate amounts of several essential vitamins and minerals.1 Recent nutrition surveys in the U.S. have found large numbers of people consume too little calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and, possibly, copper and manganese.2 3
Weight-loss, pure vegetarian, macrobiotic, and several other diets can also place some people at risk of deficiencies that vary with the type of diet. Certain groups of people are at especially high risk of dietary deficiencies. Studies have found that elderly people living in their own homes, often have dietary deficiencies of vitamin A and vitamin E, calcium, and zinc,4 and occasionally of vitamin D, vitamin B1, and vitamin B2.5 Premenopausal women have been found often to consume low amounts of calcium, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin C.6
What is the potential importance of taking vitamin A?
Dietary deficiency of vitamin A is uncommon in healthy people except in older age groups.7 Although vitamin A is important for the function of the immune system, vitamin A supplementation did not help prevent infections in elderly people living in nursing homes, in one study.8 Due to concerns about birth defects9 and bone loss,10 people should not take over 10,000 IU of supplemental vitamin A in the form of retinol without consulting a doctor.
What is the potential importance of taking beta-carotene?