Vitamin and mineral supplements for adults

Vitamins and minerals are essential to the body’s proper functioning and lack of them can lead to various health problems. Daily vitamin and mineral requirements vary according to age and several other factors. How can you ensure you’re getting an adequate intake?


Vitamins are crucial for growth and for the body’s proper functioning. They are divided into two categories: water-soluble vitamins and fat-soluble vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C, dissolve in water. When an excess of vitamins is taken in, it is eliminated in the urine. Therefore, it’s necessary to include them in your daily diet, since it’s impossible for the body to store them. As for fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin D, they are absorbed and stored in fat.

The human body needs 13 essential vitamins in order to function. They include: vitamin A, C, D, E, and K and the group of 8 B vitamins. Each of these vitamins has its specific function in the body, such as transforming food into energy, maintaining healthy cells or helping the immune system. Vitamins impact a number of essential biological processes related to life and health.

Vitamins can be found in a number of foods such as vegetables, fruit, eggs, nuts, and milk products.


Like vitamins, minerals must be consumed in adequate quantities for the body to function properly. Minerals play a part in many chemical reactions and are vital to the human body. Among minerals, we find:

  • Calcium—essential to maintain healthy bones
  • Iron—responsible for transporting oxygen to our cells
  • Magnesium—helps strengthen bones and teeth, and ensures proper functioning of the heart and muscles
  • Phosphorous—essential for calcium and energy metabolism and helps form teeth and bones
  • Zinc—is one of the components for several enzymes and is essential to growth and to the immune system’s proper functioning

Daily vitamin and mineral requirements are known to scientists and are referred to as the “Recommended Daily Allowance” (RDA). RDA can be defined as the goal for usual intake to meet nutritional needs of 97 to 98% of healthy individuals, according to gender and age.

The importance of a healthy diet

Because the body doesn’t produce the vitamins and minerals it needs itself, we must depend on diet to get the necessary daily intake. A healthy, balanced diet should be at the top of everyone’s list, young and old.

Here are a few tips on how to improve the quality of your diet:

  • Eat a lot of foods with high nutritional value such as fruit, vegetables, milk products, eggs, legumes, nuts and cereal. Not only do they contain vitamins and minerals, but they also contain essential nutrients such as fibre, carbohydrates, protein, and essential fatty acids.
  • Consult the Canada Food Guide: this reference tool available online is intended to help you make healthy food choices. Following these recommendations is one way of ensuring you get an adequate daily intake of vitamins and minerals.
  • Avoid eating nutrient-poor foods. Chocolate, pastries, chips, greasy food and soft drinks are examples of foods that are no doubt good to the palate, but high in calories without any of the health benefits.
  • Get healthy recipe books and be creative. Choose a varied diet.


Several people wonder if they should take daily vitamin and mineral supplements. If you eat well, and more importantly, if you follow Canada Food Guide recommendations, it may not be necessary for you to take them. Remember that supplements don’t replace a healthy, balanced diet, but serve to enhance it. If you think it may be beneficial for your health to take them, talk to your pharmacist about it. There are various formulations available on the market and choosing the right one for your needs can be difficult. Several factors must be considered when choosing a supplement, including age, gender, lifestyle, diet, health problems, the medication you take, and cost.

Not getting enough vitamins and minerals is harmful to your health, but taking too many isn’t any better. It’s important to follow the dosage recommended by the product manufacturer.

Calcium and vitamin D

It’s a well-known fact that calcium and vitamin D are essential to bone health. Calcium helps make bones stronger and denser, and vitamin D is necessary to improve calcium absorption. The main source of vitamin D is the sun. In summer, exposing the face, arms, and hands to the sun for 15 minutes helps increase vitamin D production significantly. Some of the main dietary sources of vitamin D include milk products, margarine, eggs, fish, and cod liver oil. Calcium is the most abundant mineral found in the body and is obtained through diet. Milk products are calcium’s main source; it’s also found in a number of other foods such as chick peas, lentils, spinach, and dried fruit.

For several individuals in Canada, daily calcium and vitamin D requirements are not met, therefore a supplement is needed. It’s important to know the recommended intake for your age group, and to overcome any deficiencies to maintain bone health. Ask your pharmacist for information on the subject.

Advice about supplements

If you think you may need a daily vitamin and mineral supplement, here are a few useful tips:

  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist what your specific vitamin and mineral needs are.
  • If possible, adapt your diet to your vitamin and mineral needs.
  • If you take a supplement, follow the recommended dosage.
  • If you are under drug treatment, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it’s necessary to take your medication and supplement at separate intervals. Some minerals such as calcium and iron may compromise proper drug absorption in the body.
  • Mention the fact that you are taking vitamin and mineral supplements during medical appointments with health professionals.

Taking a vitamin and mineral supplement can be beneficial, especially if you think your diet isn’t enough to meet your daily needs. Talk to your pharmacist, who will know how to help you make an informed choice.


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Vitamin and mineral supplements for adults

Vitamins and minerals are essential to the body’s proper functioning and lack of them can lead to various health problems. Daily vitamin and mineral requirements vary according to age and several other factors. How can you ensure you’re getting an adequate intake?