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Who Needs Supplements?

In general, all children and adults might benefit from a daily multivitamin multimineral supplement. For a few pennies per day, a supplement provides added insurance that adequate intake of the daily necessary vitamins and micronutrients will be met for most individuals. There are additional groups that may require specific supplementation. They include: 

Women may need extra calcium and other bone health nutrients. Over the counter calcium preparations are inexpensive and easy to take. Calcium supplements are best absorbed when taken with meals, at a dose of 500 mg one or two times per day. 

Women who bleed excessively during menstruation may also need to take a supplement that contains iron to meet the daily recommendation of at least 15 mg. Pregnant and lactating women have increased nutrient needs and are usually given supplements by their doctors.

Birth control pill users require nutritional insurance. Oral contraceptives have been shown to affect a number of metabolic and nutritional processes. Over the years, studies have reported drug-nutrient interactions between oral contraceptives and certain vitamins and minerals. Oral contraceptives have been shown to decrease the levels of key vitamins and minerals and potentially increase the demands of important nutrients. 

Teenagers with irregular eating habits may not eat a balanced diet. Most teenage girls need a daily calcium supplement to help fill in nutritional gaps.

Vegetarians who eat absolutely no animal products are advised to take a multivitamin with iron and other minerals each day. Iron and B12 deficiency occur frequently in strict vegetarians.

People with gum problems. Nutritional deficiencies are known to cause, or at least complicate, a number of dental problems and gum disease (periodontitis) can actually put people at risk for nutritional deficiencies. A periodontal infection can alter the ability of the gum and mouth tissue to utilize nutrients, thus interfering with normal healing and repair. At the same time, the nutritional deficiencies weaken the resistance of the tissue to plaque bacteria causing increasing inflammation.

Dieters and people who avoid entire food groups are more likely to have vitamin and mineral deficiencies. A daily multivitamin multimineral supplement should be considered.

People with deficiency diseases or absorption disorders may need therapeutic doses of nutrients (two to 10 times the RDA) prescribed by a physician. People who take prescription medications that interfere with nutrients or who abuse alcohol or other drugs may also need higher dose supplements.

Diet, Exercise and Supplements in Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a thinning of the bones — the ultimate result of a slow, progressive loss of bone mineral that affects us all, beginning at around age 35. Although this process is most pronounced in postmenopausal women, osteoporosis can also affect men as they age. For people in their 80s, bone density may be reduced by 30 percent to 50 percent. About 24 million Americans have serious thinning of their bones, and osteoporosis is associated with 1.2 million bone fractures every year.

An important cause of osteoporosis is a lack of calcium early in life. Adults need 1,200 to 1,500 milligrams (mg.) per day. To get this much calcium from food is not easy: You'd need to drink four to five 8 oz. glasses of milk each day, or eat several full servings of yogurt, cheese or broccoli (all foods high in calcium). The average person only takes in about 750 mg. of calcium daily from food. For this reason, many doctors now advise taking a 500 mg. supplement of calcium, once or twice daily, along with adequate vitamin D and other bone health nutrients such as vitamin K and magnesium. Studies have shown this type of supplementation reduces the occurrence of hip fractures by as much as 30%.

Calcium absorption and excretion can also be affected by what you eat. High-caffeine foods, such as coffee, tea and caffeinated sodas, may deplete the body's stores of calcium, and thus may promote bone loss. Diets high in protein and sodium also increase calcium excretion. 

Evidence shows that regular aerobic and resistance exercise can also help maintain bone density at any age. A survey of 350 middle-aged women found that those who were most active in their daily lives had significantly greater bone density in their spines, hips and forearms than less active women. In general, aerobic activity seems to increase bone density by a few percent, provided the activity is weight-bearing (walking, running, dancing or aerobics classes, for example).

An additional bone-density boost can be obtained by doing regular resistance exercises, such as lifting weights, two or three times a week. Any activity that stresses bone stimulates bone formation, making bone stronger with time. Your bones can benefit from regular resistance exercise at any age. In fact, some studies have found that elderly women actually increased their bone density through a program of regular exercise.
Note: All information on this website is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for a specific medical condition. Please consult your physician if you have questions or concerns regarding your health.
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