Have you ever caught yourself dumbfounded when people start talking technical terms about fitness, health and wellness, and nutrition that you sometimes just choose to avoid conversations? Sure, it could’ve happened to you or someone you know, but slinking away into the shadows stops now because we will define health food terms.
Our bodies need fuel to function and we get that in the form of nutrients from food. There are two types of nutrients—macronutrients (fondly called “macros” by health enthusiasts) and micronutrients.
Macros are nutrients that supply us with energy in the form of calories, which is why gym buffs track their macros religiously to help them reach their body goals. Knowing your calorie consumption will dictate how much gym work is required to lose, gain, or maintain weight.
There are three main macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. The fourth macronutrient is alcohol, but since it is not part of the regular daily diet of most people, it is not calculated in one’s daily needs.
Micronutrients, on the other hand, are the vitamins and minerals that help the body function properly. It helps in maintaining communication between cells, in releasing energy from food we eat for use in the body, and in blood synthesis.
We need vitamins and minerals only in very small amounts, but reaching the daily requirement for them is still difficult if we do not consume a well-balanced diet.
The same goes for macros, which explains why health food stores are selling vitamins and food supplements. While a well-balanced diet is still the best of macros and micronutrients because they are more readily used by our bodies some find it difficult to reach their daily nutrient requirement and choose to get it from supplements.
But what is the difference between vitamins and food supplements? A vitamin is just the vitamin itself, i.e. Vitamin B complex, Vitamin C tablets, Vitamin E capsules, and so on. A food supplement, on the other hand, is a concentrated mixture of all these different micronutrients for nutritional effects on the body. These can be in the form of dried and ground fruits or crops that contain a combination of vitamins and minerals to help boost health.
A simple rule to remember is that a vitamin is always a supplement, but not all supplements are vitamins. It is easy to get carried away and take a lot at once, but as mentioned earlier, requirements for vitamins and nutrients are very minimal. Before purchasing, it is important to check the label and assess your personal needs.
What is important to note is to observe your body and see what works for you. Each person’s needs are different and it would be better to seek professional advice before purchasing any vitamins or food supplements.
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