Active ingredients of supplements for a healthy lifestyle at all ages

Active ingredients of supplements for a healthy lifestyle at all ages


Adopting a healthy lifestyle means embracing more correct habits such as practicing adequate and regular physical activity , giving up smoking , not exceeding alcohol , allowing yourself the right amount of rest and paying attention to your diet . When we talk about a healthy lifestyle, we cannot fail to think about health and prevention. In this sense, a healthy diet such as the healthy and balanced Mediterranean diet represents one of the important pillars for improving one’s quality of life, building a healthy old age and significantly influencing disease prevention.

It is important that fruit and vegetables are present on our table every day for the supply of micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals . Furthermore, we should preferably choose them at km 0 and in season , matured according to their own times and under the light of the sun , and often varying the colors to enjoy all the benefits.

Unfortunately, however, despite a correct food style, due to the impoverishment of the cultivation soils, the continuous refining processes and the inadequate preservation and cooking methods, foods are often depleted of nutritional elements and we are not always able to cover their requirement. In support of a balanced diet , food supplements could help us . The use of supplementation is also useful in response to the increased demands in the various stages of life such as growth , pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause or old age.

Supplements, what are they?

Food supplements are defined by sector legislation (Directive 2002/46/EC, implemented with legislative decree 21 May 2004, n. 169) “food products intended to supplement the common diet and which constitute concentrated sources of nutrients , such as vitamins and minerals , or other substances having a nutritional or physiological effect, in particular, but not exclusively, amino acids , essential fatty acids, fibers and extracts of vegetable origin, both mono-compound and multi-compound, in pre-measured forms”. They are not intended as substitutes for a varied dietand balanced and should not be considered as medicines.

Integration at various ages

Every moment of life, be it a physiological phase or a transitional period (intense physical activity, restrictive diets, tiredness or dehydration ), increases the daily requirement or the risk of nutrient deficiency in a specific way depending on the situation.

In infants , in the first year of life, the micronutrient to integrate is vitamin D for bone remineralization.

In children , starting from the assumption that a healthy , varied and balanced diet is sufficient to guarantee the needs of all nutrients related to growth, supplementation could be resorted to on some very specific occasions only after careful clinical control:

  • if an agonist or pre-agonist activity is practiced, it is important to evaluate that there are no nutritional deficiencies in group B vitamins , vit C, vit D and minerals (Ca, Mg, Fe, Zn ). To provide greater metabolic support to performance, the possibility of integration could be evaluated.
  • When following a vegan or vegetarian regimen , vitamin B12 supplementation may be beneficial to avoid certain deficiencies , and iron and vitamin D supplementation may benefit.
  • If your child eats few vegetables : this could lead to the risk of not getting enough vitamins and minerals. In this case, integration with a multivitamin in the appropriate dose and for the appropriate period could be evaluated together with the pediatrician.

In women, the right integration must be chosen according to the phase:

  • During pregnancy : the national and international guidelines recommend taking 400 μg/day of folic acid at least thirty days before conception and up to at least three months of gestation which is essential in the prevention of some congenital malformations.
  • In breastfeeding , above all, in the case in which fish is not consumed , the nurse should take daily 100-200 mg of DHA which is essential for the brain development of the baby. A daily intake of 290 μg/day of iodine is also recommended .

In this phase, again according to what is indicated in the SIGO guidelines, micronutrient deficiencies could occur due to increased needs, for example of vitamin C , folate , some B vitamins, vitamin A , calcium , vitamin D.

  • In menopause , supplementation with vitamin D and calcium is generally recommended.
  • Advice for the over 60s

    In subjects over 60, it is recommended to take:

    • 1.1 g of protein per day for every kilogram of body weight for both men and women. Over the years, our body composition changes , we tend to increase fat mass and begin to lose muscle mass. The integration must therefore be inserted in the context of the physiological aging process . The anabolic processes, in fact, become less efficient and protein catabolism increases at the muscle level . This leads to a greater need for proteins and above all for high quality proteins.

    Therefore, it may be necessary to counteract these biological mechanisms, such as the loss of muscle strength , by supplementing the diet with proteins of high biological value such as   whey proteins from milk . Their supplementation helps to ensure a sufficient supply of high biological value proteins and branched chain amino acids such as leucine .

    • Vitamin C, useful for the normal function of cartilage due to its role in collagen synthesis , as well as being a powerful antioxidant .
    • Magnesium is important for normal muscle function and protein synthesis .
    • Vitamin D and Calcium contribute to the well-being of the bones , for the transmission of nerve impulses, for the contraction and relaxation of muscle cells .Vegetarian and vegan women:  where the introduction of foods fortified with B12 and iron is not able to guarantee their daily requirement, the need for a possible integration is foreseen.


    It should be emphasized once again that being supplements they are products that are used to integrate and not to replace a correct diet or compensate for incorrect habits. Supplements can play an active and decisive role in individual well-being. It is always good to evaluate together with an expert when and for how long to hire them.



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