A small colorful capsule full of vitamins instead of the proverbial apple a day - does that make sense? We tell you whether and to what extent you need nutritional supplements and which ones are best suited.
Food vs. dietary supplements
If you eat a healthy, balanced and varied diet and do not have any physical complaints, you do not really need any dietary supplements. Sometimes, however, it can happen that the body lacks certain and important substances due to illness or changed life circumstances. In this case it can be useful to give him these via a preparation. Even if you do not tolerate certain foods or do not want to eat them, your body may lack the nutrients they contain. So before you don't eat them at all, it is better to take them in the form of food supplements. A vegan or vegetarian diet in particular has the potential to cause deficiencies, such as vitamin B12. Some nutrients are either found exclusively in animal products or are more readily available in the form of these and are lacking in a purely plant-based diet unless they are supplied elsewhere. In addition, some deficiencies are also caused by the time of year. For example, vitamin D deficiency can be caused by the lack of sunlight, especially in winter.
Who needs supplements?
Apart from nutritional deficiencies, there are also people for whom permanent supplementation can be quite useful. Especially people who do a lot of sports, perhaps even professionally, and thus put a lot of strain on their bodies, run the risk of suffering a deficiency. For example, a lot of sweating can lead to electrolyte shifts. Therefore, it is recommended to supplement potassium, vitamin C or sodium if necessary during excessive sports. In addition, pregnant women in particular should pay attention to healthy nutrient levels. Pregnant women are often deficient in iodine and folic acid. Dietary supplements are also indicated for chronic conditions, such as autoimmune diseases or intolerances.
What dietary supplements are available?
In principle, almost every substance that your body needs can also be consumed "pure" in the form of supplements. By law, dietary supplements are defined as: "nutrients in concentrated form, for example in capsules or tablets, intended only to supplement the general diet". The regulations here include vitamins A, D, E, K, B1, B2, niacin, pantothenic acid, B6, folic acid, B12, biotin and C, as well as the minerals calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, iodine, zinc, manganese, sodium, potassium, selenium, chromium, molybdenum, fluorine, chlorine, phosphorus, boron and silicon. Fatty acids or secondary plant substances, on the other hand, are not yet regulated and therefore may not be sold as food supplements.
However, our food is sufficient in most cases, so that a deficiency only occurs more frequently for individual substances. These are mostly iodine, vitamin B, vitamin D, magnesium or iron. Especially if you don't eat fish or meat, the risk is higher that you have a deficiency of the above mentioned substances. Even with a small amount of vitamin D3 oil in a smoothie or in your food, you can counteract a deficiency and compensate for the countless hours we all spend indoors these days. When it comes to dosage, however, you should always pay attention to the manufacturer's instructions for consumption and stick to them. Because not only a long-term deficiency, but also a long-term oversupply can become problematic.
What should you look for when choosing?
It is important that the products really only contain the substances that you want to take. Often there are effervescent tablets or powders, e.g. against zinc or magnesium deficiency, which contain an abundance of other, irrelevant ingredients and substances. The form of the substance you want to replace is also relevant. Make sure that it can be absorbed by your body in this form or whether it needs to be mixed with liquid, for example. Some substances are also fat-soluble. If you consume them just like that, without another fat source, the effect is zero. Your body will not be able to metabolize them.
Dietary supplements are mostly optional, but can be useful for certain diets or life circumstances!