For decades we’ve been told that simply eating healthily will cover all our vitamin and mineral needs. Buying vitamins and supplements has been seen as something that only ill people or hypochondriacs do.
However, as you’re probably aware, that perception is changing due to the pandemic.
It’s become obvious that so many people do have key vitamin and mineral deficiencies that a re-evaluation in terms of disease control is necessary. The perception is always been that in the modern Western world we get access to the foods which deliver everything we need, but it’s become evident that many people have significant deficiencies in key areas still.
Look at vitamin D. Our bodies don’t produce it, and we need sunlight to make it. But with our modern lifestyles, especially in the northern hemisphere, we just don’t get enough of it. Also, people with darker skin tones and from certain ethnic groups, also struggle to produce enough vitamin D.
Vitamin D deficiency has become strongly linked to a more aggressive onset of COVID-19. This has led to a lot of medical experts suddenly saying we should be taking a vitamin D supplement.
Because of the uncertainty in what works and what doesn’t, we are now being told that taking multivitamins is fine. Taking supplements like iron and zinc are fine (which came to public attention when Donald Trump said he was taking zinc and vitamin D when he was diagnosed with coronavirus).
So what’s the deal? We were told that taking vitamins, minerals, and other types of supplements was pointless because our bodies got enough from eating. But now we are being told that even though we may have a great diet, we should still be looking at taking certain health supplements “just in case”.
Why Vitamins & Minerals Are Essential To Human Health
Vitamins are organic compounds that help with the growth, and maintenance of a healthy body and mind.
We only need small quantities of them every day. Even if we don’t get in every day, it takes time for the body to use them, so we just need to frequently get the right intake of the vitamins and minerals our body needs.
The key point is that vitamins and minerals are not synthesized by the body. We have to take them in through external means. This is something that many people don’t actually understand.
The most important vitamins in terms of public health are vitamin A, vitamin D, various forms of vitamin B, vitamin E, and vitamin C. Vitamin D is crucial to the absorption and metabolism of various substances including phosphorus and calcium. Niacin, riboflavin, and zinc are also crucial in 1-carbon metabolism.
The Key Vitamin Deficiencies Still Prevalent
So, for years we were told that fortified foods, enriched diets, popping pills, that was all wrong. All of a sudden, we are now being told that’s potentially not the case.
It’s been found that there are key vitamin deficiencies out there, in all societies, which can have a bigger impact on human health than was previously thought.
In women, vitamin deficiencies can have a huge impact on reproductive outcomes. Adolescents and children can therefore have a bad start which is made worse if they are not getting the nutrients they need in early life.
This is also the case at the other end of the spectrum in old people. The elderly are not on their own anymore, with middle-aged people also deficient in many key vitamins and minerals due to poor lifestyles.
It may surprise you to know that even into the 20th century, in many developed countries vitamin D deficiency was so acute it meant that as many as 85% of children had Rickets.
Synthesized in the 1930s, vitamin D was then routinely used to fortify food and drink, including milk in some countries. This led to the complete eradication of Rickets as a social problem in the developed world.
But micronutrient malnutrition still affects 2 billion people around the world every single day.
Vitamin A deficiency, folate deficiency, vitamin D deficiency, zinc and iron, and deficiencies in all B vitamins are still prevalent in many areas.
The Medical Community Has Changed Its Tune On Recommending Supplements
What seems to be happening is the advice is changing informally, and in terms of disease control, it’s right that it should. As long as you’re not taking excessive doses that can cause liver and kidney damage if taken over the long term, then the body simply gets rid of the excess.
That’s why many people are being encouraged to take supplements now. Multivitamins, and especially vitamin D and zinc which have been linked to better outcomes for coronavirus patients.
So the reaction to the pandemic has informally changed the advice that many medical specialists are giving.
How You Can Protect Yourself With Vitamins & Supplements
If you’re smart, elated advice is to take a small vitamin supplement every day. A multivitamin that includes vitamin D and minerals such as zinc and iron has been proven now to help prevent many serious illnesses and can lead to better outcomes from coronavirus.
This also puts more specialist supplements under the spotlight. Bodybuilding supplements also contain many of these vitamins and minerals, but also key nutrients that help with vascularity, strength, and cognitive health should also be re-evaluated because of the potential benefits they can bring.
Bodybuilding supplements often contain things like iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, and selenium, which is no different to many multivitamin supplements. So the perception that bodybuilding supplements are bad is also something that needs to be re-evaluated.
The bottom line here is that a good diet still gives you everything you need. However, maintaining a good diet all the time that delivers the micronutrients you need on a regular basis is tough, even in the developed world.
If you have any suggestion in your mind that you might not be getting all the key vitamins and nutrients you need, then something as simple as a multivitamin pill every day, and a mineral supplement could help you to feel better and ward off serious illness.
If you are taking more specialist supplements for athleticism, check what’s in them to make sure that you are not taking in excess of any particular mineral or vitamin, but the advice remains the same, you should look now at ensuring you maximize your vitamin and mineral intake within safe levels.