To use supplements or not? That's one of the big questions today. So, let's look at the theory behind supplementation.
If macronutrition relates to the bulk of your diet (proteins, carbohydrates and fats), then micronutrition is the stuff that comes in tiny but critical amounts in our food.
This includes vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients which are active nutrients found in plants. It's always best to get as many micronutrients as possible from food - that's a big part of the definition of a healthy diet.
However, there is a vast body of research that points to the need for supplementation for virtually everyone living in the developed world to achieve optimal health.
Government nutritional guidelines can be confusing (referred to on food labels as ‘RDI' – Recommended Dietary Intake). Whilst useful, they're based on nutrient amounts necessary to prevent deficiency diseases, like rickets or scurvy. How many people these days suffer from these ailments? In modern society almost everyone gets enough calcium, vitamin C and vitamin B1 to avoid deficiency diseases, or to reach ‘minimal health'. Optimal health is another matter.
Supplementation shouldn't just prevent deficiency diseases but chronic diseases – the ones that kill most people today.
In many cases, the micronutrient levels shown to reduce chronic disease can only be obtained by supplementation. This is especially true for vitamin D, which can be obtained from diet and sun exposure. However, it is very difficult to obtain optimal levels from diet alone, and many people do not get sufficient vitamin D from sun exposure due to the risk of sun burn or they spend most of their time indoors during winter. So in short, eat well, but remember, dietary supplements are a critical part of the game plan for winning optimal health.