Whilst the NHS recommends that we should be able to get all the nutrition we need through a healthy, well balanced diet, it’s no secret that sometimes we don’t eat as well as we should do.
Most convenience foods like microwave meals, fast food and takeaways contain practically no real nutrition, and if you eat these things too frequently in the place of proper meals, you can easily end up becoming deficient in essential vitamins and minerals like iron, calcium and vitamin C. In an ideal world, we’d always prepare super healthy, well balanced meals for ourselves, but more realistically life often gets in the way and we just don’t have the time to do that each and every day of the week.
You can pick up general multivitamin and mineral supplements affordably at most supermarkets and pharmacies, which provide you with up to 100% of your recommended daily intake of minerals and vitamins like iron, calcium, niacin, magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, D, E and B12, amongst others. It is possible to do damage to your body by taking more than the recommended daily amount, but generally, so long as people follow the guidelines for the supplement they’re taking, it should benefit your general health and well-being.
If iron deficiency is left untreated, it can weaken your immune system making you more prone to infection and illness
People who menstruate are typically much more susceptible to developing iron deficiency anemia, which can cause tiredness, shortness of breath, noticeable heartbeats and pale skin. In the UK, around 4 million people have this type of anemia. People who menstruate require up to 18 milligrams of iron each day. Chickpeas, which are particularly high in iron, contain around 6mg per 100g. Similarly, tuna, another iron rich food, contains around 3mg per tin. As such, it is understandable how getting enough iron from diet alone can sometimes be difficult.
If iron deficiency is left untreated, it can weaken your immune system making you more prone to infection and illness, and can potentially lead to complications that affect the lungs and heart. In severe cases, this can even lead to heart failure.
Similarly, around 6 million people in the UK are B12 deficient. Many people associate B12 deficiency with veganism because only foods of animal origins, like meat and dairy products, naturally contain the vitamin. However there are plenty of B12 fortified foods which are vegan, and it’s a fairly common deficiency that anyone on any type of diet can be affected by if they are not eating well enough. Symptoms of B12 deficiency can include depression, irritability, disturbed vision, psychosis, muscle weakness, mouth ulcers, and a pale yellow tinge to the tongue.
Whilst the vast majority of deficiencies can be addressed through improving your diet, taking vitamin and mineral supplements is an easy, quick-fix way in which we can ensure our bodies are getting the correct nutrition they need. We definitely shouldn’t use taking vitamin supplements as an excuse not to eat well, but taking them can help us to stay healthy when we’ve had a rough day, or a really hectic week, and have let our good eating habits slip.
Last modified: 18th March 2020