Health Supplements: Can You Do Without Them?

As a child, your mother would have made you take your morning vitamins before heading to school. Fast-forward to adult life, walking past the health supplements aisle in a supermarket can be quite overwhelming. Hundred of bottles on the shelves seem to call upon you with the assurance of better health– from the promise of a “healthy gut” to “ the secret to slimming”. Therein lies the problem of nutritional science– it’s an obtrusive mix of science with trends and clever marketing tactics. Having an understanding of the role of essential vitamins and minerals and respective bodily requirements can help you decide if health supplements are a must for you.

Types Of Vitamins and Minerals

Many vitamins are essential for health, and they fall into two major categories – water soluble and fat-soluble vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins are broken down and absorbed through fluids, while fat-soluble vitamins are digested with the help of fats. Here are some common examples:

Water soluble vitamins Fat soluble vitamins
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) Vitamin A (Retinol)
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) Vitamin D (25-OHD)
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) Vitamin E (a-tocopherol)
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
Vitamin B9 (Folacin / Folic Acid)
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

 

Minerals are also vital for all body functions. The most important ones include iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphate, zinc, sodium, potassium, chloride, manganese, cobalt, selenium, sulfur.

Common Vitamin And Mineral Deficiencies in Singapore

Nutritional deficiencies are a bigger problem than we realise. One of the most common nutritional deficiencies amongst the younger population in Singapore is of vitamin D. A study published by the Singapore Medical Journal indicates that a relatively high prevalence of vitamin A deficiency exists as well. Commonly seen in Singaporean children are folic acid and iron deficiencies. A separate study identified that up to 70% of the elderly in Singapore are suffering from at least one nutritional deficiency–in particular vitamin D, folate and calcium.

Links To Possible Illnesses

Nutritional deficiencies have been connected to a number of possible health complications, which can lead to adverse effects in both physiological and psychological health. A study in the PLOS One Journal explains that the widespread vitamin D deficiency amongst the population of Singapore is causing significant concern of potential cardiovascular complications. Vitamin D also regulates immune system function, impacts inflammatory triggers in the body, helps with calcium absorption, and contributes to healthy muscle function.

Malnutrition has been linked to a higher incidence of infections in the general population, as well as to premature ageing – not only of the skin but the internal body as well. Anaemia, bone weakness, goitre, respiratory disorders, enlargement of the spleen, and many other complications can develop when the body is not supplied with an adequate level of essential vitamins and minerals.

Popular Supplements

Sports Athletes

Many athletes rely on supplements to help boost their performance on the field. Some of the most common supplements taken include whey protein, glutamine, fish oils, BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids), and creatine.

Older Individuals

The elderly need to make certain they take an adequate supply of particular nutrients to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease, joint deterioration, bone strength, muscle strength, and mental illnesses. Vital supplements for the senior population include vitamin A, vitamin D, all of the B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, zinc, CoEnzyme Q10 and omega-3 fatty acids.

Health Conscious Individuals

People who are health conscious tend to opt for multivitamin supplements that contain a wide variety of nutrients, to ensure they take all the necessary vitamins, minerals and healthy fatty acids to keep their body strong and healthy. Most of these supplements contain B vitamins, as well as vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin E. They usually contain minerals like iron, calcium, manganese, selenium, and more.

What You Can Do

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can cause complications to our health. The average person’s diet ought to contain enough vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to sustain good health over the long term. The best way to see if you lack any of the vital nutrients your body needs is to undergo a blood test. Vitamins, minerals and specific health complications from deficiencies can be tested with biomarkers such as: a complete blood count, iron studies, mineral levels (calcium, magnesium, phosphate), vitamin levels (B12, folate, vitamin D, A, E), thyroid hormone testing (TSH, thyroxine and triiodothyronine) and protein levels from a liver function test. These tests can tell you if there is any deficiency or excess (toxicity).

We’re Here To Help

At BioMark, we generate personalised recommendations to not only optimise your performance, but also enhance your health and well-being overall– from just a small blood sample. Founded on the belief that prevention is better than cure, our predictive healthcare platform inspires people to live their best lives. We want people to not only understand their biomarkers, but also empower them to take charge of their health.


 

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