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Is it important to Intake supplements along with your normal diet?

Are you stuck with the question “To Balance or Supplement” – check out what nutritional consultant opine on this subject 

Introduction – Navigating into the supplement world 

Today’s world is filled with various challenges and one critical is choosing the right way to get the holistic nutrition for your health. So the question remains if you should supplement your diet on daily basis or get the needed nutrition from the diet. Subsequently, the offshoots to the main question that makes one perplexed are
How to chose the right supplement brand?
What is the combination of the supplements that are safe?
What is the dosage level of supplemented facts?
What is the frequency of intake?
Also navigating into world of vitamin supplements can be complicated. The sheer number of options available at the store, combined with tall claims on labels and a lack of nutrition knowledge, can make this a daunting feat. Further, checking on the approval status (often withdraw or reject few ingredients after safety assessment) of these ingredients is also important for the consumers. Although, there was a huge setback for the supplement industry back in 2014-15, things on the regulatory front are quite clear now.  

What are the broad functions of supplement foods? 
Vitamins are micronutrients (taken in small amounts), or “chemicals which act to promote biochemical reactions within the body.”  These reactions are essential in digestion of the macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins.) The majority of vitamins you need come from the food you eat. The Indian food regulator (FSSAI) is promoting largely the fortification of food in staples with these essential vitamins.
Supplements, on the other hand, are the pills you can purchase at the store that contain specific doses of vitamins and minerals, like Vitamin A, C, D, iron, biotin and more. vitamins — along with minerals and other nutrients — are essential for good health. There is no doubt that vitamins are essential, but the question arises around how to best incorporate them in your daily diet.  You can get the majority of vitamins and minerals you need by eating a healthy, balanced diet.  As I drink my ABC (apple, beetroot and carrot) juice, I’m thinking did I get my daily dosage of necessary vitamins in this glass or am I missing some?. The trick here is to understand how to choose your food. 

Chose the right mix during shopping and make it as a habit
During the trip to the grocery store, pick up rainbow coloured fruits and vegetables. Have an eye for the color of the food and the nutrition it contains. For example, Vitamin C is available Oranges, mangoes & lemons. Vitamin A (xanthophyll pigment) in carrot, papaya etc and Mineral iron (reddish brown) in Ragi, Jaggery and liver.  Also pick up seasonal fruits and vegetables available in your geographical area.  The abundant oranges & Amlas available in south Indian winters keeps your flu at bay with its high Vitamin C content.  Though you should definitely strive to obtain a variety of nutrients every day, including vitamins and minerals, routine ingestion of vitamin supplements is not suggested to achieve this goal.  

Why nutrition requirements are individual specific?
Nutrition needs are very individual, and taking such supplements may certainly benefit your health according to your nutrition deficiencies. However, this should be determined specific to an individual. In other words, there is no one-size-fits-all rule when it comes to taking supplements. That said, there are certain steps you can take to improve your nutrient intake and boost your overall health. A Nutritionist or a doctor can guide you through the process by getting health tests, pinpointing your deficiencies, and ensure you obtain exactly what you need in the right quantity. This is devised based on the individual choice on the quality of nutrition in your diet, the deficiencies in the body that arises due to low quality diet or pre-existing genetic diseases or can also be due to less absorption of the nutrients. You want to make sure that you’re buying a quality supplement, one that contains what its label says. Check out the guidance document FSSAI has published on the selection of supplements in India.

What are the general essential supplements to intake?

If you do opt to take supplements (for vitamins, minerals or other nutrients), below are four types to consider:

Omega 3 - Omega-3 supplements containing DHA and EPA can help improve heart and brain health, Eating at least 3 walnuts per day or a spoonful of flaxseeds per day or two -three servings of cooked fish weekly would provide the amount of these omega-3s that most people need for good health. But if you’re not getting the above in your diet, a daily supplement of 250 milligrams should do the job. The RDA (required daily allowance) for Omega-3 is 1.6gms in men and 1.1gms in female.

Vitamin D - Vitamin D is crucial for bone health and can also help prevent hyperparathyroidism, which is an excess of the parathyroid hormone in the bloodstream that may lead to osteoporosis, joint pain and other issues. But since Vitamin D comes primarily from exposure to sunlight and can be difficult to obtain from food, many people are deficient and may require a supplement. The RDA (required daily allowance) for this Vitamin is 600 IU or 15 mcg.  

Vitamin B12 - Vitamin B12 helps your body perform essential functions, like producing red blood cells and maintaining the central nervous system and many vegetarians and vegans are low in this vitamin, as many of the good sources are animal-based.  Required daily intake is 2.4 mcg  

Iron - Iron, a mineral present in red blood cells, helps transport oxygen throughout the body. Iron deficiency, can lead to anemia. This could be prevented by adding iron sources in your diet (green leafy vegetable, ragi, dates) or taking a supplement along with food. The RDA (required daily allowance) of iron is 16-18mg

Watch this space for information on the nutrition and in the meantime if you have any clarification please feel free to drop a line at

About the Author

Dr. Lakshmi Kota is currently a freelance consultant who helps nutraceuticals, supplement companies in new product research and development. She completed her research from University of Georgia and subsequently held various positions in India & abroad. She also worked as a consulting nutritionist in hospitals and weight loss management companies. She is an active speaker and have imparted training's on food & nutrition in IT corporates and educational institutions. Besides writing blogs, product reviews she is actively contributing to her spouse entrepreneurial endeavors and taking care of 2 lovely kids. She can be reached for any pro bono engagements at

(All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site)
Issue 12


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