HEALTH: Improving the quality and variety of what we consume has undeniable health benefits.
HEALTH: Improving the quality and variety of what we consume has undeniable health benefits. macniak

When should you take supplements?

HAVE you purchased a supplement to help you feel better, have more energy, or get better results from a workout? If you answered yes, you're not alone.

The 2015/16 National Nutrition Survey found that almost half (43%) of Australian adults used supplements. But how much of this supplementation is backed by research?

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend individuals only supplement if they were eliminating a food group from their diet, with the exception of pregnant women or those under the guidance of a health professional. But as we've seen, people continue to supplement.

Beware the marketing hype: Under normal circumstances, a varied, nutritionally complete, inclusive diet should not require supplementation.

In fact, by definition, supplements are just that - supplementary to a diet.

There is not a 'dose-response' relationship with nutrients, where the more you consume, the greater the physiological response.

In fact, with many of the nutrients you get in a typical multi-vitamin, your body excretes the excess in your urine or faeces - have you ever noticed your urine goes fluoro yellow after taking a B-vitamin?

Some nutrients can also cause nasty side effects in large quantities.

When are supplements needed?

Where your needs for particular nutrients are elevated.

Where consumption alone cannot sustainably meet the nutrient quantity you need.

Where you do not consume the main sources of a nutrient (such as vitamin B12 for vegans, or fish oil supplements for those who do not eat fish).

For athletes there are a limited number of supplements that may be beneficial - see the Sports Dietitians Association's website for more information.

Because supplements are often expensive, a better investment of your time and money is in more nutritious food.

The typical Australian diet is nutrient-poor and improving the quality and variety of what we consume has undeniable health benefits.

If you want to know more about supplements or what to know if they're necessary for your diet, book a consult with an accredited practising dietitian.


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