Supplements have become the talk these days. There is just too much information out there, and yes it is also confusing. On one hand, we're told that they can save our lives, and on the other we're told that we don’t really need them as they are a waste of money. What's the truth? 
Many people think a healthy diet should supply all the nutrients you need for optimal health. And that is basically true.  Here is a known and undisputed fact; If the food we ate consisted of greens, game, fish, and lived where the air, water, and soil were pure and free of pollution, and if we consistently exercised our bodies, direct sunlight every day, and slept for 7-9 hours every day and managed stress effectively, then, we could probably skip taking nutritional supplements. 

This is not the case for most of us; in fact, it's not really the case for any of us. Our topsoil is depleted and has lost much of its mineral content. Our food is often grown with a lot of chemicals, many of us today have less exposure to sun or dirt than our ancestors could have imagined. We leave for work in the morning and return late; our weekends are full of activities, we rarely have time for sun exposure- Vitamin D

Another fact is that age, drugs, digestive problems, excessive coffee, alcohol and stress can interfere with the body’s ability to produce, absorb, or utilize crucial nutrients.

The most important step to take today is to get blood tests done. Do them every year and to also learn to listen to your body. Whenever you feel tired, fatigue or unwell, be sure to have your levels checked immediately. Having said that, there are 4 critical nutrients that need to be supplemented especially if you are a vegetarian or vegan.

1.      Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 prevents nerve damage, protects the heart, and supports your overall energy level and immune system. If you remain deficient in B12 for many years, you could develop anemia and neurological issues. Be sure to consult an expert on how to supplement and how much to supplement. Vitamin B12 is found in animal-based foods such as eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, meat, fish and poultry.

2.      Vitamin D

Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because the only way to get it naturally is by exposing your body to sunshine. Unfortunately, while our ancestors lived outdoors and didn’t wear much clothing, in the modern world, this has changed. Today, most people work indoors and wear clothes much of the time. This fat-soluble vitamin is essential for bone strength, immune function, brain health, helps in the absorptions of calcium and other minerals including phosphorous and mood. Vitamin D also Regulates insulin production and protects against type 2 diabetes. People who are obese are more likely to be deficient in vitamin D.

When going for the test request for 25- hydroxyl vitamin D test- it is able to measure if you’re getting too little or too much Vitamin D. It may be a good idea to have your blood tested for vitamin D levels every once in a while. Most of the experts recommend that you aim for a blood level between 30 and 50

3.      Vitamin K

There are two forms of vitamin K:

1.      K1 is found in plants, especially green, leafy vegetables.

2.      K2 is lesser-known and harder to obtain in our modern diets. It’s found in dairy products, in egg yolks, and in some fermented foods.

Vitamin K2 is important because it is associated with reduced bone loss, reduced risk of hip and bone fractures, and reduced rate of osteoporosis.K2 is most effective when combined with vitamin D to promote strong bones and a healthy heart.

Our bodies can convert K1 to K2 although our bodies produce less K2 as we age. Also, we are not certain how much of K2 is being converted by our bodies.

K2 supplements are widely recommended, and they may be especially beneficial for people who don’t consume dairy products or fermented foods on a regular basis. Plant-based sources of K2 include sauerkraut, kombucha (fermented teas), kimchi, etc. Because there’s widespread variance in how efficiently humans convert K1 to K2, many experts are recommending to aim for approximately 100 mcg of K2 daily for adults.

4.      Zinc

Zinc is an important trace mineral everyone needs to stay healthy.

It is mineral necessary for your body’s immune system to work properly. It also plays a key role in cell growth, wound healing, and breaking down of carbohydrates. It’s also been found effective in helping in fighting common cold.

Some of the food sources of Zinc include; lamb, beef, poultry, pork, oysters and plant based sources include; legumes, beans, mushrooms, nuts and seeds, oats, and nutritional yeast. However, the zinc in plant foods is sometimes bound to phytates, making it more difficult for the body to absorb this nutrient.

Soaking and sprouting can help reduce the phytates, but even then, many plant-based eaters struggle to get the optimal amount. And keep in mind that zinc absorption typically decreases as you age. Supplementing with zinc may be the best option for plant-based eaters — and often for older adults in general. For adults, 11-13 mg per day is generally the recommended dose of zinc supplement

In conclusion, a diet rich in plant foods will definitely give you most of the nutrients required to function. However, it is highly encouraged to take yearly test so as to determine what nutrients are lacking so as to supplement in good time. This ensures you optimize your chances of enjoying a vibrant and happy life.