At PicPax our health professionals fully believe that a balanced and varied diet is the best source of essential nutrients, however, deficiencies occur throughout populations even where food supply is plentiful. The typical diets across the many and varied populations living in the UAE, bear little resemblance to what experts recommend for fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, good fats and portion size.
It is not uncommon for people to take multivitamins to fill nutritional gaps and with the idea that they may maintain and improve health. Multivitamins are usually well tolerated and it is unlikely that any major nutrient imbalance is likely.
Evidence, however, suggests that times of greater need occurs throughout the life cycle when the body requires more nutrients than the typical diet may provide, such as iron, calcium, zinc, vitamin D, folate and vitamin B12. Over the course of a lifetime, deficiencies in one or more nutrients may contribute to serious health issues.
Micronutrients are required for nearly all metabolic and developmental processes in the body and mostly met from the foods we consume. Some nutrients are not made in the body such as vitamins D, C and B12 as well as omega 3 fats and 9 amino acids. Anyone who eliminates certain foods such as dairy, fish, fruit and vegetables is at greater risk of having a nutrient deficiency. Eating patterns mainly based on high energy, low nutrient dense foods are often related disease which at certain stages in life, can have a big impact on short and long term health.
The food pyramid is still the best model for guiding people to make good food choices. It includes all five food groups:
- Cereals and starchy vegetables/beans and pulses
- Multi-coloured vegetables and fruits five plus a day
- Animal and plant proteins
- Good fats
The confusion or lack of mindfulness of how much of these groups are being consumed are where energy levels can be out of balance. The elimination of any group can also open the door for nutrient deficiencies. A chat with a qualified nutritionist or dietitian is often well worth the time.
Even when a diet is well planned, it is not always possible for people to choose foods containing the recommended amounts of all essential micronutrients, and relatively minor nutrient shortfalls can lead to health problems. The role of multivitamins and targeted supplementation also needs to consider absorption and bioavailability of vitamins and minerals, as well as the effect of the balance of macronutrients – carbohydrate, protein and fat, on metabolism. Supplements cannot replace eating adequate amounts of a variety of foods, however, they may be particularly beneficial to people who have poor nutrition for a variety of reasons, including inadequate intake of foods from the food groups, advanced age or have specific health issues. When choosing supplements, consumers are advised to take a preparation that is tailored to their age, gender, risk factors and stage of life and wherever possible, supplementation should be selected on a nutritional assessment.