This is a question we hear a lot. The popular thought is that if you eat a healthy balanced diet, full and different colours and textures, you should be getting all the vitamins and minerals you need.
In theory, that’s totally correct. The sad truth, however, is that our modern lifestyles have excluded many vitamins and our intensive agricultural practices of recent years has caused a serious depletion of minerals in the soil.
Government conducted soil surveys have shown that over the last 80 years many vital minerals have almost vanished. The rate of magnesium in the soil is only about one third of what it was in the 1920s. Even worse is selenium, which has almost disappeared completely.
When it comes to our vitamin intake, Brit’s are notoriously deficient in vitamin D. The lack of sunlight on our little island means that many of us are deficient in this vital vitamin which can lead to constant infections, or over a long period of time osteoporosis – as vitamin D is needed for calcium placement.
But what exactly are vitamins and minerals?
Minerals are inorganic substances that are required by the body for it to function. We talk about minerals as micronutrients (as opposed to your “macros” of protein, carbs and fats) as the body only needs very small amounts of them but they are essential ingredients of body fluids and tissues.
There is no one size fits all for the human body in terms of requirements, as every body is different - factors such as age, sex, physiological state (e.g. pregnancy) will affect your needs. But it’s safe to say that we should all be getting a minimum amount of each. This is where your RDA (recommended dietary allowance) comes in – something we reference a lot here at TEA+. Our teas contain up to 100% of your RDA of targeted vitamins, the other half of your micronutrients.
Vitamins are organic compounds which are again essential for the normal functioning of the body. Whilst minerals come from soil and water, vitamins come from plants and animals. The human body does not produce these compounds on its own so we need to source them from elsewhere. For the most part, we do this via diet.
However, as mentioned above, that’s not always possible. Different diets, different lifestyles and the state of our planet can work against us. On top of that, our nutritional needs aren’t stagnant – our bodies grow and change and do wonderful things such creating a whole new human life from time to time.
Why might we need extra vitamins and minerals?
There are two stages of life where you should definitely be supplementing your vitamin and mineral intake.
Children should be supplementing their vitamin A, C and D intake because they are growing and may not get enough from their diet to keep up with their bodies. Especially fussy eaters!
Folic acid (vitamin B9) is a must have for pregnant women for the baby’s neural development. Even those thinking about getting pregnant should consider supplementing this vitamin. Throughout pregnancy, it’s a good idea for women to supplement their vitamin intake to ensure that they aren’t running at a deficit in any of the vital micronutrients.
Iron is another micronutrient that may be necessary for women to supplement, especially those with very heavy menstrual losses.
In general, the Department of Health recommends that everyone in Britain should be taking a daily vitamin D supplement, particularly in the darker half of the year. As mentioned above, the lack of sunshine here means that a natural source of vitamin D is hard to come by.
Those who follow a vegan diet should supplement their B12 intake as well, which we’ve talked about before on the blog. As B12 is made by anaerobic microorganisms, which are found most often in the gastrointestinal tract of animals, it’s hard for vegans to get enough B12 in their diet without supplementing.
So ditch the diet?
We’re not saying sack off the healthy diet, turn to beige food and down our vitamin tea instead. What we’re saying is that to be on the safe side, you should definitely consider supplementing your vitamin and mineral intake. For all the hard work and effort you’re putting in to maintain a healthy lifestyle, adding in a cup of tea or two a day will have you covered. Starting a routine of supplements won’t harm you – it’ll only do you good in the long run.
Still got questions? Well, you’re in luck!
Our in house Nutritional Therapist Penny is here to answer your questions.
If you want to know anything more about what vitamins you need, how to get them, what minerals you might be deficient in or anything relating to todays blog, you can ask Penny.
Comment down below, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment on our social media. On Monday, Penny will be answering them on our Facebook, live. So tune in Monday lunchtime to get the answer to your question – and we’ll post up the video for those who can’t watch live.