Behind the news: Daily Telegraph 17/12/13
Posted 18 December 2013 12:00 AM by Healthspan
Articles published yesterday in The Times, Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail quote scientists as saying, “supplementing of well-nourished adults … has no clear benefit and might even be harmful."
While a well-nourished adult, by definition, is getting the right levels of vitamins and minerals in their diet, the conclusion reached by the academics from the John Hopkins University School of Medicine and the University of Warwick, is not based on well-nourished populations but on an overview of research involving people with long-term health problems.
According to Medical Nutritionist Dr Sarah Brewer ‘Food supplements are not designed to treat or prevent chronic disease, so it is hardly surprising that giving them to people whose heart attack is linked to a lifetime of poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking and increasing weight provides little benefit. Food supplements are only designed to do what their name suggest, to supplement food intake. Diet should always come first, but the National Diet and Nutrition Surveys (NDNS) consistently shows that significant numbers of the population do not get all the vitamins and mineral they need from their food. Significant numbers of people may be well-nourished in that they are overweight, but NDNS data show, for example, that a significant percentage of adults do not obtain the LOWER Reference Nutrient Intake (LRNI) for some micronutrients, especially vitamin A, iron, magnesium, potassium, calcium, zinc and selenium. The LRNI is the minimum level of a nutrient needed to prevent a deficiency disease. Even when average intakes seem adequate, it is important to remember that an average is only an average – half the population could be getting more and half getting less. Many people, including myself, chose to safeguard against deficiency by taking a daily vitamin and mineral supplement to maintain general health and energy levels. These important functions are backed by the newly approved EU health claims that underline the importance of each nutrient for maintaining general health. For those that avoid eating certain foods or food groups, or who are cutting back to lose weight, supplements are especially important. This news story also overlooks the fact that reputable manufacturers always advise people to consult their doctor if they have persistent symptoms that worry them.’
Our advice remains the same, a nutritious diet forms the bedrock of staying healthy, with supplements playing a helpful role for specific groups who are at risk of a particular deficiency and those who wish to ensure a basic daily level of nutritional support.
If you have any concerns about your diet, health or supplements that you are taking, you should always speak to your doctor who can advise you based on your medical history and specific requirements.
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