Supplements vary from individual vitamins such as vitamin C or D, to multivitamins, special infant formulas, supplemental drinks, herbals…there is a wide variety of supplements available. If we were to eat exactly what was advised by the Food and Drug Administration’s food pyramid there would usually be no need for supplements to most diets, but let’s face it, who do we know that always eats exactly what they should?
Dietary supplements are substances we use to add nutrients to our diets in order to lower our risks of health problems. They may improve our overall health or keep ailments in check. Supplements can be vitamins, minerals, or amino acids and taken as a pill, capsule, gel tab, chewable tablets, gummies, liquids, etc. They are available in a range of doses, so it is very important when purchasing that we pay close attention to who they are intended for. At high doses, some can be harmful and have adverse effects. You should always try to discuss beginning supplements with your doctor so that you can be monitored for such effects.
The best way to get all of the vitamins and nutrients we require would be to eat a well-balanced, rounded diet including plenty of healthy food. We are a busy society, and a lot of our meals are eaten on the run during the work week. So it doesn’t hurt to take a multivitamin. Some people however have problems absorbing the necessary nutrients from their food. This can be from health issues such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or Crohn’s disease, which are chronic inflammatory diseases of the digestive tract making it not only difficult to eat healthy food, but also to absorb those nutrients into the body. There are also those people who are simply unable to eat what they should due to illnesses (or treatment for illnesses) that causes them to be nauseated on a daily basis.
Children do not require a supplement to their diet unless their diet is lacking in nutrients. If they are particularly picky eaters they may benefit from a multivitamin. If they suffer from a delay in physical or developmental growth (failure to thrive), have certain chronic diseases or food allergies, or are on a restrictive diet, such as a strict vegan diet they may also benefit from a dietary supplement.
The Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program makes a point to discuss diet with our participants. It does happen on occasion that our participants require some type of supplementation, whether that is the pregnant woman suffering from hyperemesis or the picky child. Also children who follow a vegan diet, have celiac disease, who take certain medications, or who have chronic medical conditions that interfere with their intake would also benefit from a supplement. WIC works with physicians to help our participants get such supplements as special formulas for infants as well as Boost, Pedi sure, Ensure, and Carnation Breakfast Essentials just to name a few. Please talk with your doctor or your child’s doctor if you are a WIC participant and feel you would benefit from such assistance.
For more information about WIC, contact 740-992-0392 Monday through Friday from 8AM-12PM and 1-4PM.
Jenna Petry, RN, is a certifying WIC health professional with the Meigs County WIC Program.