Vitamins and supplements help fight diet deficiencies

Between staying up late doing homework and waking up early for class, it’s possible for students to let nutrition take a back seat.

Having vitamin and mineral deficiencies can lead to many health issues if not addressed through a diet change or supplements, said registered dietitian Stacie Ellis.

“The amazing thing about the vitamins and minerals, there’s key foods that have the bulk of them,” Ellis said. “We all know what they are: fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes.”

Unless the symptoms are severe, deficiencies are not easily detected, Ellis said.

“A lot of times, people might be low in a vitamin or mineral and not even notice it,” Ellis said.

Deficiencies can be more prevalent based on demographics and lifestyles, she said. Women often need to supplement iron and magnesium into their diet because they lose minerals in their menstrual cycles.

Students with plant-based diets typically need to make sure they are getting enough B vitamins and supplement with nutritional yeast, Ellis said.

Rogelio Meixueiro, Veggie Connections Club president, said he used to take a daily vitamin C, vitamin D, antioxidant and fiber supplement before he switched to a plant-based diet.

Meixueiro said because he exercises five to six times per week, he supplements vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps make DNA and helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

He said people who have the same diet as him but workout less might not need to supplement if they are eating fortified greens, cereals and nutritional yeast.

Ellis said meal replacement drinks and protein shakes often have vitamins and minerals added to them that are easily absorbed into the body.

“Gummy vitamins are pretty good,” Ellis said. “We do well with food, so gummy vitamins are close to food.”

To keep her skin clear and her hair healthy, kinesiology junior Alexus Frazier, takes a multivitamin.

Many skin issues can be linked with a vitamin deficiency, Ellis said. Things like dandruff and dry skin may be a sign that someone isn’t getting enough B vitamins. If someone is having trouble keeping their skin clear, they might consider adding more vitamin A to their diet.

Zinc is important for the immune system, Ellis said. Things like a chronic cold could be a sign of a zinc deficiency.

Ellis said even with vitamins and minerals, a healthy diet is also important.


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