Back to Home

About the Site

Introduction to Food

History of Food

Food Pyramid

Fruits and Vegetable: Health Aspects

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

new logo

Food Supplement

In addition to regular diet, which consists of carbohydrate, protein, fat or lipid, naturally-occuring vitamins and minerals, some people may also need supplementation in their diet. Food supplement may come in several forms, solid, liquid, or semi-solid. According to The EU Food Supplements Directive 2002/46 which came into force on 1 August 2005, food supplements are defined as: a concentrated source of a vitamin, mineral or other substance with a nutritional or physiological effect, alone, or in combination, sold in dose form.

 

Do we really need food supplements ? The answer depends how good and balanced our daily food intake are. Good and balanced food intake means that ALL nutritions required by the body are regularly consumed at their required level. This ideal situation may not be easily achieved by all people, at all times, due to many reasons or consideration. Nutrient shortfalls have been attributed to the many physiological conditions that directly or indirectly have health consequences that could impact daily life and overall wellbeing. Survey shows that one-third of American adult fail to get their daily requirement for vitamin C. Low intakes of vitamin C can lead to poor energy level and thus result in weakness. In the case of vitamin E intake, the situation is even worse as more than 90% American people fail to get their daily intake of vitamin E. In such cases, food supplements intake become a very important part of the diet.

 

Why Consuming Supplements ?

There are several reasons why we may have to consume food supplements. Food processing, especially cooking at high heat may result in the depletion of several vitamins in the food, such as vitamin C. Farming practices may also contribute to the lower level of vitamins, such as growing food plants in nutrient-deficient soil. However, the most likely reason for consuming food supplements may be attributed to the imbalanced diet, such as eating too much meat and less vegetables and fruits. Many people in the less developed countries suffer from vitamin deficiency-related health problems due to imbalanced diet.

VITAMINS

Vitamins are organic chemical compound which are found in tiny amounts in natural foodstuffs, that are required by an organism as a vital nutrient to sustain life because they play an important role in normal metabolism process, growth and vitality (Hassan, Pharmaceut Anal Acta 2012, 3:82). Vitamins are classified into two broad categories: water-soluble vitamins (Vit B12, Vit C, folic acid, niacin Vit B3, Vit B1 and Vit B2) and fat-soluble vitamins (Vit K, Vit E, Vit D and Vit A). Water-soluble vitamins need to replaced regularly, while fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the liver and fatty tissues and are eliminated more slowly than water-soluble vitamins.

Supplemen 1The fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body for the long periods, therefore it has greater toxicity when consumed in excess amount. Therefore consuming fat-soluble vitamins should be done in a well-balanced diet to reduce the potential of toxicity. It should also be noted that the body requires only a small amount of any vitamins. Small amounts of vitamin A, D, E, and K are required to maintain health, but consumption at megadoses will lead to toxicity and creates health problem.

Vitamin A

Supplemen 7Vitamin A (also called retinol) is required for the formation of rhodopsin, a photoreceptor pigment in retina. Therefore, vitamin A is one of vital vitamin required by human being as the lack of vitamin A will result in the reduced eyes’ function and in acute deficiency may end up in blindness. Vitamin A also plays an important role in bone growth, tooth development, reproduction, cell division, gene expression, protection from infection and regulation of the immune system

Natural sources of vitamin A:
Vitamin A presents naturally in food of animal origin, such as dairy products, milk, cheese, fish, and liver. Some plants contain beta-carotene that inside the human body will be converted to vitamin A, such as tomatoes, brocolli, dark green leafy vegetables, carrots, pumpkin, apricots, mangos, sweet potatoes. 

Recommended Daily Intake:
Despite the fact that vitamins are needed for maintaining good health, however, there is recommended value of intake. Recommended Daily Intake (RDA) of vitamin A for adults as described by Mayo Clinic (http://store.mayoclinic.com/BMC/pdf/books/290250/premium/290250.pdf) is as follows:

 

Men

Women

Pregnant

Breast-feeding

Age 19 or older

3,000 IU or
900 mcg/day

2,330 IU or
700 mcg/day

2,565 IU or
770 mcg/day

4,335 IU or
1,300 mcg/day

 
The Tolerable Upper Intake Level is 10,000 IU or 3,000 mcg/day for adults. This is the maximum intake that pose no health risk for nearly al people in particular life stage and group. Note: mcg, microgram; IU: International Unit.

In addition to natural sources, we can also consume chemically-synthesised vitamin A in the form of tablets or capsules. Research has demonstrated that human body can convert plant sources of beta-carotene into vitamin A, however, animal sources of vitamin A (retinol) are better absorbed. Some studies also showed a link between diets that rich in beta carotene and vitamin A from food, but not food supplement, with the lower risk of some types of cancer. However, the recommended daily intake should be taken into consideration when consuming vitamin A capsules of tablets to reduce potential toxicity. According to FAO, routine cunsumption of large amounts of vitamin A over a period of time can result in toxicity, including liver damage, bone abnormalities, joint pain, alopecia (a symptom of hair loss), headaches, vomiting, and skin desquamation (skin peeling). Read more in: Human Vitamin and Mineral Requirements published by FAO (2001) at: http://www.fao.org/3/a-y2809e.pdf.

 

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)

Supplemen 3Vitamin B1 (thiamin) has a role physiological role as a co-enzyme in carbohydrate metabolism and branched amino acids. Deficiency of vitamin B1 results in Beri-beri, polyneuritis (widespread infllmation of nerves), and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is a syndrome of brain damage that are manisfested in confusion and loss of mental activity, loss of muscle coordination that can cause leg tremor, loss of memory, vision changes (double visions, back and forth movements of eye).

Natural sources of vitamin B1:
Vitamin B1 can be obtained from beef, liver, dried milk, nuts, oats, oranges, eggs, seeds, legumes, and peas. According to FAO standards, the recommended intakes of vitamin B1 are as follows:

Group

Recommended intake mg/day

Infants and children

 

0 – 6 months
7 – 12 months
1 – 3 years
4 – 7 years
7 – 9 years

0.2
0.3
0.5
0.6
0.9

 

 

Adolescents (10 – 18 years)

 

Females
Males                                                                         

1.1
1.2

Adults

 

Females (19+ years)           
Males (19+ years)

1.1
1.2

 

 

Pregnancy
Lactation

1.4
1.5

 

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Supplemen 4Vitamin B2 functions as a co-enzyme in many oxidation and reduction reactions in the human body. Vitamin B2 deficient results in hypo, or ariboflavinosis (a nutritional condition produced by a deficiency of riboflavin in the diet, characterized by cheilosis and magenta tongue and usually associated with other manifestations of vitamin B deficiency), with sore throat, oedema of the pharyngeal and oral mucous membranes, cheilosis, angular stomatitis, glossitis (inflammation of the tongue that causes the tongue to swell in size, change in color, and develop a smooth appearance on the surface); seborrheic dermatitis; and normochromic, normocytic bone marrow. The deficiency of vitamin B1 almost invariably occurs combined with a deficiency of other B-complex vitamins, therefore, some of the symptoms (e.g., glossitis and dermatitis) may result from other complicating deficiencies. Angular cheilitis is a common inflammatory condition affecting the corners of the mouth or oral commissures. Depending on underlying causes, it may last a few days or persist indefinitely. It is also called angular stomatitis and cheilosis.

Natural sources of vitamin B2:
Vitamin B2 presents naturally in many foods, such as mushroom, spinach, cereal (corn flakes, muesli), egg, almond milk, cottage cheese, beef, chicken, fish and seafoods (mackerel, squid, salmon, tuna).

Recommended Intake of Vitamin B2:

Group

Recommended intake mg/day

 

 

Infants and children

 

0 – 6 months
7 – 12 months
1 – 3 years
4 – 6 years
7 – 9 years

0.3
0.4
0.5
0.6
0.9

 

 

Adolescents (10 – 18 years)

 

Females
Males

1.0
1.3

 

 

Adults

 

Females (19+ years)
Males (19+ years)

1.1
1.3

 

 

Pregnancy
Lactation

1.4
1.6

 

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) toxicity is not a problem because of limited intestinal absorption.

Source: FAO. 2001. Human Vitamin and Mineral Requirementshttp://www.fao.org/3/a-y2809e.pdf

 

Vitamin B9 (Folate and Folic acid)

Supplemen 6Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate. Folate is of special importance for pregnant women to prevent birth defects. However, people who take anticonvulsants, or have malabsroption in liver may also need folate supplementation with folate. This vitamin is important for red blood cell formation, growth and cell division and in preganancy, therefore it is important for everyone, the deficiency mat lead to anemia.

Natural sources of Folate:
Dark green vegetables like citrus juices, broccoli, spinach, and dried legumes such as chick peas, beans, lentils, liver are good sources of folate. The recommended daily intake according to Mayo Clinic (http://store.mayoclinic.com/BMC/pdf/books/290250/premium/290250.pdf):

 

Men

Women

Pregnant

Breast-feeding

Age 19 or older

 

400 mcg/day

400 mcg/day

600 mcg/day

500 mcg/day

Tolerable intake level: 1,000 mcg/day for adults.

 

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

Vitamin B12 is very important in red blood cell formation, cell metabolism, and nerve function. Vitamin B12 deficiency will result in permanent nerve damage that are manifested in numbness and tingling in hands and feet, and balance problems. In addition, deficiency can also cause anemia, depression, confusion, poor memory and dementia. The ability to absorb vitamin B12 declines by age, therefore people of 50 years of age or more may need vitamin B12 supplementation or eat fortified foods. Vitamin B12 supplementation is also important for vegetarians who do not eat eggs or dairy products.

Natural sources of vitamin B12:
Most microorganisms, including bacteria and algae sythesise vitamin B12 and they are the only source of vitamin B12 which enters food chain through food of animal origin.  Meat, fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs and dairy products, and some fortified breakfast cereals are good sources. A 3-ounce serving of salmon contains about 5 mcg of vitamin B-12.  Recommended daily intake as described by Mayo Clinic is as follows, check at this address:
http://store.mayoclinic.com/BMC/pdf/books/290250/premium/290250.pdf

 

Men

Women

Pregnant

Breast-feeding

Age 14 or older

 

2.4 mcg/day

2.4 mcg/day

2.6 mcg/day

2.8 mcg/day

No tolerable upper intake level has been determined, but it is believed that the risk of toxicity is very low.

 

Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)

Vitamin CVitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is required to maintain skin integrity, helps heal wounds, and is also important in immune functions. Vitamin C also posses antioxidant properties which helps in limiting cell damage caused by free radicals, molecules associated with certain diseases and aging process. Human body can not synthesise vitamin C, therefore requirement for vitamin C has to be fulfilled from the food or in the form of supplement. Studies have demonstrated that people who consume food high in vitamin C have a lower risk of cancer and heart disease. Consumption of vitamin C will also reduce severity of cold.

Natural sources of vitamin C:
Vitamin C can be easily obtained from many fruits, such as citrus, strawberries, tomatoes, green and peppers, broccoli, spinach, guava, and many other fruits. Recommended daily intake:
http://store.mayoclinic.com/BMC/pdf/books/290250/premium/290250.pdf

 

Men

Women

Pregnant

Breast-feeding

Age 19 or older

 

90 mg/day

75 mg/day

85 mg/day

120 mg/day

 

Adult smokers

125 mg/day

110 mg/day

 

 

 

Tolerable upper level intake of vitamin C for adult is 2,000 mg/day. Taking 2,000 mg a day may cause mild diarrhea and may also interfere with blood glucose testing. People with the problems of gout, kidney stones, sickle cell anemia, and iron storage disease should contact the doctor before taking supplement of vitamin C.

 

Vitamin D (Calciferol)

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin necessary for calcium absorption by maintaining normal levels of calcium and phosphate in the blood. Normal levels of vitamin D is required for normal mineralisation of bones, nerve conduction, nad general cellular function in all cells of the body. Deficiency of vitamin D bones can become thin, brittle, misshapen.

Natural sources of vitamin D:
Fatty-fish, such as salmon and fish-liver oil are among the best sources of vitamin D. In general, vitamin D is obtained from fortified foods, such as fortified milk, fortified breakfast cereals, and fortified orange juice. The human body generally gets vitamin D from the diet, but it can also generate vitamin D by converting cholesterol-like precursor (7-dehydrocholesterol) in the skin upon exposure to sunlight.

Recommended daily intake:
http://store.mayoclinic.com/BMC/pdf/books/290250/premium/290250.pdf

 

Men

Women

Pregnant

Breast-feeding

Age 19 - 50

 

600 IU or 15 mcg/day

600 IU or 15 mcg/day

600 IU or 15 mg/day

600 IU or 15 mg/day

Age 51 - 70

600 IU or 15 mcg/day

600 IU or 15 mcg/day

 

 

Age 71 - older

800 IU or 20 mcg/day

800 IU or 20 mcg/day

 

 

 

Tolerable upper intake level for vitamin D: 4,000 IU or 100 mcg/day for adults. Taking more than recommended intake for prolonged time increases the risk of side effects, such as nausea, headache, excessive urination, high blood pressure, deposit of ion calcium in soft tissues and kidney damage.

 

Vitamin E (Tocopherol)

Vitamin EVitamin E is fat-soluble vitamin known as a potential antioxidant which has the protective effects to oxidative stress and counteract free radicals in the body which may damage biological molecules, leading to many diseases and cancer. It is also important for immune system. Research suggests that supplementation of vitamin E do not provide same health benefits as dietary sources. Such difference may be attributed to the fact that the vitamin E supplement usually contain only one form of vitamin E (alpha tocopherol), whereas foods contain many forms.

 

Natural sources of vitamin E:
Vitamin E can be obtained from nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, wheat germ, and whole grain products. As a simple guide, two tablespoons of peanut butter contain about 2 mg of vitamin E.

Recommended daily intake:

 

Men

Women

Pregnant

Breast-feeding

Age 14 or older

 

22 IU (15 mg/day)
natural source
or

22 IU (15 mg/day
natural source
or

22 IU (15 mg/day
natural source
or

28 IU (19 mg/day
natural source
or

 

 

33 IU/day
synthetic source

33 IU/day
synthetic source

33 IU/day
synthetic source

42 IU/day
synthetic source

Source:
http://store.mayoclinic.com/BMC/pdf/books/290250/premium/290250.pdf

Tolerable upper intake level: 1,000 mg/day (1,500 IU/day) natural source or 1,100 IU/day synthetic source for adults.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Backgrounds

Under certain conditions, we may have to consume food supplements. However, what supplements to consume is to be decided wisely. Therefore, understanding about the food supplements is important.