Nutrients are substances that are essential for good health - promoting energy, providing building blocks to form body structures, and helping to regulate body functions.
Protein, carbohydrate, and fat are classified as macronutrients providing energy to fuel the body plus protein is broken down into amino acids to repair and grow new muscle fibres.
Minerals and vitamins are classified as micronutrients and play a key role in the body's structures and functions.
The Irish government and the HSE publish detailed nutritional guidelines comprising a few key points:
- Eat more vegetables, salad, and fruit - Up to seven servings a day.
- Limit your intake of high fat, sugar, salt (HFSS) food and drinks.
- Reduce portion sizes and use the food pyramid as a guide.
- Increase your physical activity.
For many people, following a balanced and healthy diet coupled with exercise, will provide all the nutritional needs of your body.
However, nutritional needs vary with age, activity, and medication - particularly the long-term use of medications.
With age the lean body mass naturally reduces and there is an increase in body fat. This generally results in reduced mobility and subsequent risk of osteoporosis and falls.
It also reduces the metabolic rate causing the body's energy requirements to fall which may in turn may lessen your appetite. The reduced intake of foods may also decrease your micronutrient intake (for example vitamins).
Certain medications are well known for causing side effects such as nausea or drowsiness affecting nutritional intake, but sometimes a lesser known side effect happens without giving you any warning: nutrient deficiency.
Most medications for a short amount of time will not lead to nutrient deficiency.
But long-term use can be different - reducing the absorption of certain vitamins or depleting minerals in the body or even inhibiting the production of important enzymes.
Even commonly used medications like some statins, PPIs (for acid reflux) and diuretics (lower blood pressure) etc taken for long periods can lead to nutrient deficiency.
If you feel any of the above apply to you, we can complete a review of your medications and diet to provide guidance on what nutritional supplements would benefit you.