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Creating a better you

Improve your vitamin and mineral intake

Published:Wednesday | April 5, 2023 | 12:33 AMKeisha Hill/Senior Gleaner Writer

STROLLING PAST pharmacy or drugstore shelves teeming with dietary supplements might make you wonder: Am I getting enough nutrients? The $35-billion per year supplement industry feeds this curiosity with splashy labels and claims, hoping to fuel the belief that we all need to fill a few dietary gaps.

The good news is most supplements are not necessary. It is also time to think bigger as in maximising the mix of foods on your plate. Do not count on symptoms or their absence to clue you in to a possible nutritional deficit. Most deficiencies are subtle, with few glaring signs and it is not something you can diagnose on your own.

Dr Orlando Thomas, medical doctor and functional medicine practitioner at Thomas Medical Centre, said true health and wellness is only possible if it radiates from a solid, fundamentally sound centre. He indicated that there is a core group of 90 essential nutrients that has the greatest positive effect in bringing vibrant health to the human body’s complex and multidimensional systems.

“These essential nutrients are essential for you to get into your diet everyday for the body to function normally. The more often you go without getting them the more likely you are to develop diseases and various health problems,” Dr Thomas said.

According to Dr Thomas, we must give our body all the raw materials it requires to maintain and rebuild itself. Raw materials are so vital to your health but can be very hard to find. Centuries of mining, farming, irrigation, and acid rain have eroded life-giving minerals from our soil. These mineral-deficient soils are then used to grow and cultivate our food and because of this, our food is lacking in essential minerals.

“The soil is the home of iron, magnesium, calcium and plants usually have responsibility in taking these in organic elements out of the soil, carbonating them, making them absorbable, assimilable into your body, so your body can use them. What you get from the food, depends on what is in the soil,” he said.

Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals found in food that nourish your body and help keep you healthy. They are essential to your overall health. Choosing foods each day that are rich in vitamins and minerals is the best way for your body to get what it needs to be healthy. However, according to Dr Thomas, research consistently finds that most people do not get enough vitamins and minerals in their diets.

“About 85 per cent of our soil is depleted in minerals, and this translates into the food that we are supposed to eat having less minerals. Foods and vegetables that we think should have an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals do not. We have to pay close attention how we get in minerals that are deficient,” he said.

As a result of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, Dr Thomas said many persons are unaware that many of their diseases or illness are cause by lack of nutrients and minerals. “Many people turn to medication to relieve symptoms. However, if you give the body what it needs, the body can repair itself. If properly understood and the root cause addressed, you can reverse almost any disease,” he said.

What is needed he said is a proper understanding of what the body needs, so whether it be hypertension or even diabetes, understanding what is going on in the body is important. “In many instances there is something the body is crying out for and if you can figure it out, both doctor and patient can arrive at a permanent solution,” Dr Thomas said.

Not getting the vitamins and minerals can have serious consequences for your health. A general lack of nutrients can lead to malnutrition. This is sometimes easier to recognise and to treat. A lack of even one specific vitamin or mineral is harder to diagnose but can be just as dangerous. Some vitamin deficiencies can even be life-threatening.

Having too much of some vitamins in your system can also be dangerous. For this reason, it is very important to talk to your doctor before you start taking any supplements. This is especially important if you are pregnant or have health conditions.

The symptoms of vitamin deficiency vary and some deficiencies have no symptoms at all. In general, if you have any of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor.