Taking supplements is based solely on an individual’s personal needs. Personally, I prefer to glean my supplements the old-fashioned way through food. However, as we age our nutrient needs change, and sometimes we aren’t able to extract and assimilate all the necessary nutrients through our diet. As a female in my late fifties, physiologically calcium levels have declined. Therefore, the need for calcium supplements has increased in order to stave off osteoporosis. To that addendum, certain minerals require vitamins to act as a catalyst to assimilate effectively. Case in point, calcium requires vitamin D, just as iron requires vitamin C. Since vitamin D isn’t readily abundant outside of sunshine or as an additive to food, I include it as a daily supplement. However, since I consume generous amounts of iron and vitamin C naturally through raw food sources, I don’t feel an inherent need to supplement them. Although, I do take a daily supplement of kelp and zinc. The other vitamin and mineral I focus on are vitamin A and potassium, although not as a supplement but from natural food sources.
Having studied nutritional science, one of the areas that fascinated me most was the influence diet has on cellular degeneration and aging. The aphorism that ‘beauty is skin deep’ couldn’t be more true to the link proper nutrition has on aging. Aside from the adverse effect aging has on skin, our skin is a reflection of our internal health. This is where nutrition may play an active role in deterring the process. Beta-carotene is naturally abundant in fruit and vegetables most often associated with the orange hues in carrots, yams, papaya, and cantaloupe. What makes beta-carotene so important in our diet is that it’s a natural precursor to the production of vitamin A. On average I consume 30-40,000 IU of natural beta-carotene in my diet daily. Vitamin A is a highly effective antioxidant as well as a communicative messenger to rebuild cellular deterioration. While vitamin A protects and facilitates amino acids in repairing and building, potassium is crucial to cellular function as a principal constituent of electrolytes. They are called such because they carry electrical charges throughout the blood to stimulate muscles, including the heart. Potassium is one of the main blood minerals that circulate within our body and one of the most difficult mineral levels to maintain. Our daily nutrient requirement of potassium is 4700 mg, which the average person barely consumes a quarter of.
If I am not getting enough vitamin A and potassium through my diet, should I take supplements?
Where vitamin A is concerned, high-dosage supplements can cause toxicity levels. So I suggest integrating the foods I mentioned earlier into your diet as an alternative. With respect to potassium, I have to answer with a resolute no! Unless prescribed under the direction of a physician. However, there are specific fruits and vegetables that are rich in potassium which can meet the RDA. Topping the list are leafy greens: Kale, spinach, chard, collard and mustard greens, etc. Vegetables: Mushrooms, sweet red peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and zucchini to name a few. Fruits: Banana, papaya, cantaloupe, berries, and pineapple, etc. Another source is the green electrolyte drink. It not only covers half my daily units of vitamin A, it also contains 1/4 of the RDA of potassium. Should you have questions about food sources not mentioned, you may check it against a nutrient look-up.
Studies have concluded that a high plant-based diet, restful sleep, and exercise remains the safest method in maintaining proper health.