To vitamin or not to vitamin? And what to take? Tips on how to vitamin up the right way from Yong Wai Chin, Senior Nutritionist at Nature’s Farm.
#1 Theoretically, you don’t need vitamins.
That’s the good news. But of course, there’s a caveat, so don’t throw out your bottles of Vitamin C and nutritional supplements just yet. Says Ms Yong, “Vitamins and health supplements are not necessary if we can ensure that we are getting enough nutrients from our daily diet. However, for most modern-day urbanites, we find ourselves eating out often and sometimes, meals are rushed affairs. We eat what is convenient rather than what our body needs. As such, it is likely that most of us will find it difficult to obtain all the nutrients we need just from food alone. In this case, we recommend that it may be beneficial for individuals to consider dietary supplements as a value-add.”
#2 Vitamins are not candy. Go easy on them.
So yeah, unless you have a perfect diet, the nutritionist suggests that you pad up your daily food intake with a few extras. But she advises caution: “Don't be over-zealous and consume more than what your body needs. Follow the recommended dosages indicated on the packaging and be especially conscious of fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamins A, D, E and K) — take only what is needed as excess amounts may be accumulated in our body and may prove to be detrimental rather than beneficial."
#3 If you have no specific health concerns, pick a multi-vitamin. Otherwise, target your ailment or area of concern.
Ms Yong tells us, “It is generally advisable to take a good, balanced multi-vitamin or Omega-3 supplements to supplement any nutrition gaps that may be present, as more often than not, we may not be eating sufficiently from all food groups to get all the nutrients our bodies need. For those with more specific health/nutrition concerns, e.g. age-related, family health history, lifestyle-related etc. they can consider taking supplements that are more targeted and specific. For example, someone who enjoys alcohol beverages regularly may consider taking a liver support supplement, while an avid sportsman may want to take glucosamine to protect joints’ wear and tear."
#4 Vitamins and supplements are not magic potions or miracle drugs.
One can hope, right? Unfortunately, the nutritionist says: “Health supplements in general are made with natural ingredients and do not contain potent medicinal ingredients, unlike prescription drugs or medicines. So one should not expect to see instantaneous results. However most consumers may recognise that a health supplement is efficacious and effective for them when they experience higher energy levels, reduced occurrences of falling sick and catching seasonal flu bugs, improved general immunity and improvement in mood.”
#5 Millennials are more health-savvy than baby boomers, and each generation has different needs.
A Millennial daughter and Baby Boomer mum may need different vitamins and supplements, and it’s got nothing to do with being social media-savvy and/or entitled. Says Ms Yong, "Millenials, being younger, tend to go for multivitamins and minerals for health maintenance. Being ‘well-ready’ and health-savvy, they also start to take an interest in their health and wellness from a relatively earlier age than Baby Boomers — this is evident in the growing popularity and prevalence of collagen beauty drinks and consumption of probiotic supplements. Millennials are more novelty-seeking and will also look out for supplements that are novel in terms of packaging and delivery format (size/colour of tablets, liquid or chewable supplements etc). Baby Boomers tend to focus more on healthy and active ageing, and are therefore more likely to invest in supplements to maintain their brain, eyes, joints and bones. They are also more likely to invest in supplements to upkeep their general immunity and digestive health. The in-betweeners (Gen X consumers who are in their late 30s to early 50s) generally invest in similar supplements as Baby Boomers but are more open to experimentation and novel 'new gen' supplements like their Millennial counterparts."