Have you ever wondered why you might want to consider taking nutritional supplements? The fact is, while the average American is eating more than ever these days when it comes to calories, we’re not getting the right balance: most of us don’t come close to hitting government recommendations for fruit, vegetables or whole grains. These foods are important sources of nutrients like fibre and vitamin C. Additionally, some health conditions like celiacs can affect nutrient absorption.
That’s why certain supplements could be used to fill gaps by our diets, Nutrition Journal reported, particularly during times like pregnancy or postmenopause, when we might have higher-than-usual needs.
Here’s a look at a few particular nutrients where the evidence is strong that supplementation can be helpful.
There is strong evidence that niacin (also called vitamin B3) helps patience with heart disease. For example, a study meta-analysis published in 2010 found that patients with coronary heart disease saw improvements of nearly 20 percent in their HDL cholesterol levels when they supplemented with niacin.
The evidence for calcium’s role in prevention of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women is strong–a research review published in 2011 stated that the evidence is there for postmenopausal women to continue taking calcium supplements. There’s also promising evidence for calcium’s role in reducing colon cancer risk and, in conjunction with magnesium, preventing breast cancer.
If you’ve been pregnant you likely know about the important of supplementing with folic acid–this nutrient is associated with a reduced risk of neural-tube birth defects, which are associated with conditions like spina bifida. A 2010 study confirmed that protective effect, and folic acid is found in prenatal vitamins and added to food likes breads and cereals.
This vitamin has long been added to milk in order to prevent rickets in children–and the condition is now rare in developed countries. Now it’s being studied for possible protective effects against a variety of other conditions, from colon cancer to osteoporosis, though the research is still preliminary.