The issue of whether you can rely on diet alone for all of your micronutrient needs or whether you should supplement is a contentious one.
While some studies conducted into multivitamin usage suggest a multivitamin will improve overall nutrient intake, as well as health and longevity, other studies appear to establish links between multivitamin usage and cancer.
So what’s the truth on the matter? Are supplements really necessary?
The truth about supplements revealed
According to Dr Jonathan Wright of Nutrition & Healing, when it comes to supplements any answer must include an answer for vitamins C and D.
Vitamins C: “The human requirement for vitamin C results from a genetic defect, the absence of a gene that encodes for the enzyme L-gulonolacotone oxidase, the last of four enzymes that transform glucose into ascorbic acid (vitamin C),” explains Dr Wright.
While there’s a very small amount of ascorbic acid or ascorbate in nearly every human diet, nowhere is there enough to maintain intra and extra-cellular levels at those normally synthesised internally by virtually all non-primate animals, especially when those animals are stressed.
And because of this genetic lesion and since vitamin C is water soluble and therefore transient, for optimal health and metabolic functioning for humans, daily vitamin C supplementation is a necessity.
Vitamin D: In humans, vitamin D results from metabolisation of a precursor produced in skin by solar radiation. “It is presently concluded that humans evolved (or were created) in tropical regions of planet Earth where solar radiation and consequent human vitamin D levels reach their maximum,” says Dr Wright.
As a result, ongoing research points to the fact that optimal levels of vitamin D for health and metabolic functioning are those levels found in humans living in tropical regions who are exposed to solar radiation without any intervening sunscreen.
But because of population migration, a large proportion of humanity no longer lives in tropical regions. In addition, “many of us have been persuaded that sunscreen use is beneficial,” says Dr Wright.
Therefore, humans living in non-tropical regions and all humans using sunscreen should take supplemental vitamin D for optimal health and metabolic functioning.
The bottom line: Take supplements in addition to your healthy and balanced diet. However, Dr Wright recommends you only take supplements with the help of doctors skilled in nutrition and nutritional therapy.