Why you need food supplements

Are you the kind of person that consumes any kind of dietary supplements before consulting a dietician or doctor? It is high time you consulted before consuming any supplements in order to know the nutrients your body needs.

Private Kamanzi, a nutritionist from Amazon Wellness Centre, Remera, says food supplements are what we add to normally prepared dishes, they are formulated or extracted from animals or plants to complement locally prepared meals. People usually supplement diets because some food nutrients are lost as food is being prepared.

He says examples of food supplements are vitamins, minerals, herbals and botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, mineral salts, and proteins. Dietary supplements come in a variety of forms: traditional tablets, capsules, powders, and drinks.

Kamanzi says that popular supplements include vitamins D and E; minerals like calcium and iron; herbs like Echinacea and garlic.

Rene Tabaro, a senior nutritionist and Dietician at Oshen King Faisal Hospital, says that before taking supplements, you need to see a doctor or dietician for a general body check-up for (vitamins and mineral salt, enzymes, white blood count, haemoglobin, albumin, total protein, glucose, lipids (total cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL, LDL) and other parameters, in order to know which kind of food is required for your condition.

He adds that after knowing the diagnosis, a specialist in nutrition can prescribe a supplement food and elaborate a dietary plan that is best for your health; do not take supplements without a doctor’s guide or dietician’s prescription, as it might cause complications to your health or worsen your sickness.

Before consuming the supplements, Tabaro advises to read the label to be aware of the content in the supplement food or powder.

He adds that patients suffering from chronic kidney disease are restricted to taking potassium rich foods, however, patients with pulmonary embolism (a blockage in one of the pulmonary arteries in the lungs), who are on warfarin medication are constrained to consume foods containing Vitamin K (amaranths, soybeans, broccoli, pumpkin, spinach, and avocado, among others.)

Tabaro notes that patients with gout (a form of inflammatory arthritis that develops in people who have high levels of uric acid in the blood), should eat foods rich in protein or purine (beef, yoghurt, fish,) and saturated fats (like fatty meat, coconut, and palm oil).

He cautions to follow the doctor’s or dietician’s advice before consuming supplements since failure to do so might worsen the disease.

Kamanzi adds that the food we normally cultivate has all the ingredients needed, all we need to do is prepare it well. That way, there will be no need for supplements.

“Some people with serious are restricted from eating certain foods, yet those foods have nutrients; for example, a person with diabetes is advised to reduce consumption of milk yet it has nutrients the body needs. Since the diet is restricted, one needs to replace it with a supplement,” he says.

He says that the problem is that some supplements have labels that do not indicate the specific ingredients, so one has to be keen on where to buy the supplements.

Kamanzi says that vegetarians have micro nutrient deficiency since they depend on plant origin food. They need supplements like Vitamin B, omega 3, iron, zinc, to get the ingredients that they could have missed out on by not taking animal origin foods.

He also says that dieticians usually restrict heart patients from consuming fats like meat, milk, and prescribe Vitamin B, and omega 3 instead.

People should improve on the way they prepare food to avoid loss of nutrients; do not cook greens for too long, avoid frying, especially already fatty food like meat, if you are to fry greens, use a smaller amount of oil. If food is prepared well without losing any nutrients, we wouldn’t need food supplements, he notes.

editoriall@newtimes.co.rw

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