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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Should I be taking vitamins and supplements?

    Related Topic
    I think of myself as a rather healthy person and eat fairly well but was wondering if I should be taking multivitamins? Afterall, they're only beneficial right? So why doesn't everyone take them?
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  • Sally is an Accredited Sports Dietitian, Accredited Practicing Dietitian, and Exercise Physiologist. She has a special interest in endurance-sport athletes, disordered eating and weight management. … View Profile

    People in developing countires need vitamin & mineral supplements as their diets are definitely deficient. If you are health-minded, and eat a variety of foods (over the month…not necessarily a massive variety within a given day/week); then chances are, you do not need a multivitamin. Obviously there are special cases that would require supplementation, but this is best done in conjunction with a dietitian or GP, and with the appropriate blood test results proving that you are actually deficient and do require the tablet.

  • Arlene is a registered practising dietitian, with a private practice in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, and has built a strong business over the last … View Profile

    It is ideal to get your vitamins and minerals from a balanced diet. If you have restricted eating you often do need to take a supplement. For example a vegan would need to take vitamin B12, iron and sometimes zinc. Very often postmenopausal women do not satisfy their calcium requirement and may need a supplement. Severe dieting may require a multivitamin. Each individual needs to be assessed by a professional. You should not walk into a shop and buy a varitey of vitamins. These may interact with each other or with medication you are taking. The vitamin industry is a multimillion dollar industry so be wary of self prescribing or listening to the gossip of others.

  • Jean Hailes for Women’s Health is a leader in women’s health, supported by funding from the Australian Government. We provide trusted and easy-to-understand information to … View Profile

    Most of the supplements that people take are probably unnecessary if their diet contains a wide variety of healthy foods. They certainly don’t taste as good as fresh food and don’t give you all the other added benefits such as fibre, water, energy and protein that are just as important.

    Food will generally give you all the vitamins and minerals you need, unless you’re in a high risk group (e.g. vegetarians, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding).

    Jean Hailes for Women's Health busts 10 myths about supplements at www.jeanhailes.org.au/magazine/2012-magazine-vol-1/page-3-nutritional-supplements

  • Dr Michael Elstein

    GP (General Practitioner)

    I am an anti-ageing/wellness expert and author of ‘Eternal Health,’ and ‘You have the power.’ I have appeared on radio and television and currently have … View Profile

    There is a common misconception that if we eat a healthy or balanced diet then we will get all the nutrients we need.  In 2008 Food Standards Australia, an independent government agency, found that a large number of Australians weren't getting sufficient iodine and some population groups not enough selenium, which forms part of the body's antioxidant defence and detoxification systems. Some experts assert that magnesium and zinc deficiencies might also be commonplace.  Yet zinc, magnesium and selenium are found in meats, vegetables, nuts and seafood-not rare foods.  Even fresh organic produce often fails to stimulate my taste buds, which makes me wonder about the nutrient density of these foods.  It would be wonderful if we could get all the nutrients we need from the food we eat but this just isn't happening.
      I perform a nutritional assessment on all patients and find that B vitamins, protein, calcium, zinc and essential fatty acids are common deficiencies.  This phenomenon, despite consuming food sources of these nutrients, might be due to a compromised digestive process.  These nutrient deficiencies also go some way to explaining recurring medical complaints including fatigue, anxiety, depression and insomnia.
      Aside from addressing underlying causes of nutritional deficiencies,  I have found that nutrient supplementation is virtually essential.

  • Chris Fonda

    Dietitian, Nutritionist, Sports Dietitian

    As an Accredited Sports Dietitian, APD and athlete (springboard diver), Chris has both professional and personal experience in sport at the sub-elite and elite level.Chris … View Profile

    The best advice I can give you is to go and get yourself tested at the GP with the appropriate test to see if you are deficient in any vitamin or mineral. If you are I would strongly suggest you visit an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) to sort out a practical way on how to correct this imbalance. Bring you blood tests along with you as APDs are trained to know what levels of each vitamin and mineral are needed for good health. You can find an APD at www.daa.asn.au

    Michael in response to your comment on organic fruit and vegetables, currently the evidence states that there are no nutritional differences between organic and conventionally grown fruit and vegetables. Check out the DAA website for more information.

    The reason I believe that people aren't getting enough vitamins and minerals through my experience is because most people are not eating a wide variety of different foods. Most people are on a “diet” which often cuts out major food groups leading to nutrient deficiences. Multivitamins are generally not necessary unless a person is deficient or has some condition like malabsorption, lactose intolerance, coeliac disease etc and haven't been officially diagnosed or educated.

    APDs are the “experts” in food and nutrition. To find an APD in your local area go to www.daa.asn.au and click on “find an APD”

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