Is an orange chewable tablet the first thing you think of when you hear vitamin C? Or have you heard someone say magnesium helps with sleep? Vitamins and minerals are talked about a lot, but how well do we know them, what they do, and where we find them? Get the inside scoop on supplements from our nutritionist Emma.
Vitamins are naturally occurring, organic compounds that our body requires to function (live, breath, think, grow, run), but only require in super small amounts. Our bodies can’t make their own vitamins so we have to get them from our diets.
While there’s no end of supplementation you could buy to boost your intake, we think the best place to look for vitamins and minerals is in our food.
Minerals are naturally occurring, inorganic compounds that our body requires to function (live, breath, think, grow, run), and each mineral is required by our body in differing amounts depending on it’s role. If there’s a larger amount it’s referred to as a macromineral, and a trace mineral if it’s needed in much smaller amounts.
So where do supplements come in?
We should think of supplementation as our nutrient insurance, or as a ‘top up’ to meet an optimal range. We should not rely on them as our main source of nutrients.
If you are considering supplementation, seeking guidance from your medical professional (such as your GP) is important, as blood tests can be done to determine any deficiencies. Any deficiencies can then be treated accordingly.
If our bodies are lacking in nutrients, and we are unable to get these from our diet, we would then look to supplementation. You can be lacking in nutrients for a number of reasons – a common one being from following a more restrictive diet, such as a vegan diet, where certain nutrients aren’t as present in plant foods, or as bioavailable (this means the nutrients are in a state to be easily absorbed by the body). Check out our post which talks about the bioavailability of iron here.
Alternatively, we might have a varied diet, but our bodies simply aren’t doing a great job of absorbing a particular nutrient. This could be due to issues with our gut lining such as damage, or imbalances within our gut microbiome. Different nutrient deficiencies can present with different symptoms, which is also why it is key to check in with your medical professional if you think something isn’t quite right.
Learn more about Fresh Start here.
Meet the Nutritionist
Our in-house nutritionist Emma ‘Edamame’ was born and bred in mid Canterbury and has the health and wellbeing of Kiwis in mind at all times. As an NZ registered nutritionist (NZ Nutrition Society) with a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Food Science from the University of Auckland, she makes sure we’re all getting our fresh dose of local veggies and our meals are full of nutritious substance – thanks for having our back Em (and our waistlines!). When it comes to New Zealand produce, Emma is a whizz, with fresh berries being her absolute fave. Intrigued to know what food this nutritionist couldn’t live without? Fresh fish and seafood, delivering on both flavour and nourishment. As well as ice cream, especially real fruit ice creams, in the summer time! Life’s all about a tasty balance, right?