Anyone worth their weight in nutrition credentials will tell you to go to food first for your dietary needs. Eat a perfect diet and you’ll meet almost all your requirements for vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fiber. The problem is, almost no one eats perfectly. A study published in last month’s Nutrition Alert found that less than 10% of Americans meet the minimum daily requirements for vegetables. We average only three to four servings of fruits and vegetables, and even then, choose the worst options – potatoes, iceberg lettuce, and apple juice. Tomatoes grace the plate, but typically in pizza sauce and other processed forms.
Even if you ate perfectly every day, your diet probably would come up short for a few nutrients. For example, you would need to drink 10 glasses of milk to get the minimum recommendation for vitamin D and you would far exceed your daily limit for red wine trying to get enough resveratrol. Some nutrients, such as folic acid and vitamin K, are better absorbed or used by the body in supplement form than from food, and some nutrients, such as vitamin B12 and calcium, are needed in increasing amounts as we age.
Better yet, compared to people who skip the supplement aisle, those who supplement tend to be more health conscious, take better care of themselves, eat better, and maintain better overall health throughout life.
You probably have a pretty good idea whether or not your diet is perfect. But, just in case you’re still in a quandary on whether or not to supplement, here’s a quick test to assess what nutrients might be low in your diet.