Vitamins, supplements offer essential nutrients to keep healthy

Lea Petersen

Many people have daily routines — be it getting up to work out at 6:30 every morning or heading to the Hub to grab a healthy snack after your 10 a.m. lecture.

Unfortunately, if you happen to miss your bus in the morning and you miss your morning workout or your healthy snack, your entire day seems off and unbalanced. This same thing happens to your body when you skip out on essential nutrients, whether or not you notice.

“If students are finding that they are getting sick easily, they could not be getting the recommended amount of nutrients,” said Diane Birt, professor of food science and human nutrition. “I encourage a healthy diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals along with exercise; however, if you are not getting all the recommended amounts, taking a supplement or multivitamin can help.”

It is important to note that there can be too much of a good thing when it comes to vitamins, Birt said. 

“Vitamins go in and out of vogue all the time. Just because something is ‘in’ now doesn’t mean that your body needs it,” Birt said. “Students should always see a physician who can test for vitamin deficiencies.”

Essential vitamins can be sparse in the fine cuisine of Ramen Noodles, Wonder Bread and choice beverages that college students often find themselves living off of for weeks on end.

“Multivitamins are good for everyone,” said Ryan Wagner, manager of Complete Nutrition in Ames. “Multivitamins provide health benefits not only in performance but in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Our bodies are really great at regulating our dietary intakes.

“If a student happens to go over the recommended daily intake of a vitamin once in a while, his or her body will dispose of the extra naturally.”

Getting all your necessary nutrients is important for a healthy lifestyle, but Birt and Wagner remind students to proceed with caution.

“Plant-based vitamins can be variable, as plants are variable. A crop may be smaller than the last one and that could affect the product,” Birt said.

Wagner added that whey protein, a common supplement people take to increase their protein intake, does not contain a lot of protein.

“Whey protein, while it is the cheapest on the market, doesn’t offer a lot of protein for absorption,” Wagner said.

People also should be careful buying supplements and vitamins from nonreputable sources, Wagner said.

“Startup supplement companies, while cheaper, can cut corners on products and ingredients,” Wagner said. “It’s best to stick with products that have been available for a while.”

Overall, the best way to meet your daily requirements is to eat well-balanced meals. However, if that is not feasible, check with your physician as to what is missing from your diet. Then you can add in anything that you are lacking.