Supplementation

It is generally recommended that people eat a well-balanced diet to meet their mineral requirements, while avoiding deficiencies and chemical excesses or imbalances. However, supplements may be useful to meet dietary requirements for some minerals when dietary patterns fall short of Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) or Adequate Intakes (AIs) for normal healthy people.

The Food and Nutrition Board currently recommends that supplements or fortified foods be used to obtain desirable amounts of some nutrients, such as calcium and iron. The recommendations for calcium are higher than the average intake in the United States. Women, who generally consume lower energy diets than men, and individuals who do not consume dairy products can particularly benefit from calcium supplements. Because of the increased need for iron in women of childbearing age, as well as the many negative consequences of iron-deficiency anemia, iron supplementation is recommended for vulnerable groups in the United States, as well as in developing countries.

Mineral supplementation may also be appropriate for people with prolonged illnesses or extensive injuries, for those undergoing surgery, or for those being treated for alcoholism. However, extra caution must be taken to avoid intakes greater than the RDA or AI for specific nutrients because of problems related to nutrient excesses, imbalances, or adverse interactions with medical treatments. Although toxic symptoms or adverse effects from excess supplementation have been reported for various minerals (e.g., calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, and selenium) and tolerable upper limits set, the amounts of nutrients in supplements are not regulated by the absorption: uptake by the digestive tract bioavailability: availability to living organisms, based on chemical form metabolism: the sum total of reactions in a cell or an organism zinc: mineral necessary for many enzyme processes iron: nutrient needed for red blood cell formation vitamin: necessary complex nutrient used to aid enzymes or other metabolic processes in the cell vitamin D: nutrient needed for calcium uptake and therefore proper bone formation phytate: plant compound that binds minerals, reducing their ability to be absorbed vegan: person who consume no animal products, including milk and honey

Recommended Dietary Allowances:

nutrient intake recommended to promote health adequate intake: nutrient intake that appears to maintain the state of health fortified: altered by addition of vitamins or minerals anemia: low level of red blood cells in the blood

Excesses of certain minerals can prevent the absorption of others, which is one reason that eating a balanced diet is superior to depending on mineral supplements. With the possible exception of iron and calcium, mineral deficiences are rare among healthy people in developed nations. [AP/Wide World Photos. Reproduced by permission.]

Excesses of certain minerals can prevent the absorption of others, which is one reason that eating a balanced diet is superior to depending on mineral supplements. With the possible exception of iron and calcium, mineral deficiences are rare among healthy people in developed nations. [AP/Wide World Photos. Reproduced by permission.]

Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Therefore, supplement users must be aware of the potential adverse effects and choose supplements with moderate amounts of nutrients.

electrolyte: salt dissolved in fluid blood pressure: measure of the pressure exerted by the blood against the walls of the blood vessels glucose: a simple sugar; the most commonly used fuel in cells amino acid: building block of proteins, necessary dietary nutrient gastric: related to the stomach enzyme: protein responsible for carrying out reactions in a cell hormone: molecules produced by one set of cells that influence the function of another set of cells fat: type of food molecule rich in carbon and hydrogen, with high energy content blood clotting: the process by which blood forms a solid mass to prevent uncontrolled bleeding high blood pressure: elevation of the pressure in the bloodstream maintained by the heart hypertension: high blood pressure cardiovascular: related to the heart and circulatory system stroke: loss of blood supply to part of the brain, due to a blocked or burst artery in the brain

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