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Multi vitamins instead of a balanced diet?

Both vitamins and minerals are the body’s essential nutrients that are crucial for the body to function well. These nutrients have multiple uses. For example:

  • Iron is used to make red blood cells
  • Calcium is the building block for strong bones and teeth
  • Vitamin D helps to control the amount of calcium and phosphate in your body

This complete mini guide on vitamins gives you more details on what they do and where to find them.

The role of food (besides giving you energy), is also to make sure you get the vitamins, minerals and other trace elements such as iodine and to keep your body healthy.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet takes care of most of our daily vitamin and min-eral needs. And doctors agree that your diet plan should cover all food groups – a supplement is not a long-term solution alternative to a balanced diet.

If you are in doubt about whether your daily diet is adequate, it would be a great idea to seek the help of a dietician to set your intake right. However, this common knowledge about your daily food should help you get started:

  • Get the balance right
  • Eat a wide variety of foods in the right proportions.
  • Gets lots of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Have atleast 5 portions of a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables (not canned) a day.
  • Lessen your starchy foods intake
  • Choose wholegrain varieties whenever you can, or eat potatoes with their skins on for more fibre.
  • Watch your intake of diary products
  • Go for lower-fat milk and dairy foods. These are healthier options to help you get enough protein and calcium.
  • Regulate your intake of animal protiens
  • These are important sources of protein, vitamins and minerals, and form part of a healthy, balanced diet, but their quanity needs to be regulated if you want to lose weight.
  • Have sweets as little as you can
  • You can cut down on fat and sugar by eating fewer sweets, cakes and biscuits, and drinking fewer sugary soft drinks.

Adapted from The Eatwell Plate, NHS

When do I need supplements?

  • If you are planning to have a baby, your doctor will probably put you on a folic acid supplement, which helps prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
  • All breastfeeding women, children aged six months to five years, and people aged 65 and over need vitamin D supplements.
  • People who get very little exposure to sunlight also need vitamin D sup-plements.
  • Children aged six months to five years are often recommended for supplements containing Vitamins A, C and D as a precaution since children may not get this through their diets.
  • If you have iron deficiency anemia, your doctor will prescribe an iron supplement for you.