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Beginning a Healthier Life, Step Seven: Vitamin Supplements

The idea of multivitamins sounds great: when you feel like you’re just not getting enough vitamins from your diet and daily routine, take a one-a-day multivitamin and you’ve filled your quota of 10 vitamins and minerals, respectively, in your daily diet. However, many nutritionists and health experts have agreed that fresh foods and a healthy routine is always the better option when available than taking supplements. More often than not, having a healthy diet causes supplements to not even be needed. Being an active and conscious eater will solve the issue of finding foods with lots of vitamins and minerals.


Some vitamins are more specific than the general multivitamin. There are vitamins specified toward groups of people such as men, women, children, pregnant women, and people over 50 that might have a harder time finding foods filled with the right vitamins. Research these vitamins thoroughly and the necessity of them.


Those with certain diet restrictions, such as vegetarianism and veganism, might find it harder to find foods with the correct amount of vitamins and minerals, so taking pills could be a good alternative. For vegans and vegetarians, you’ll want to look for multivitamins that have supplements such as iron, zinc, and magnesium, amongst other vitamins, in it because those are harder (but not impossible) to find in vegetables and vegetarian/vegan substitutes.


Those with certain heritages such as an Asian origin, elderly people, and those who do not go outside often are advised to take about 10 mg of vitamin D a day. The elderly are suggested to take vitamin supplements because as the body ages, it has a harder time absorbing nutrients from natural supplements such as food or sunshine for vitamin D.


Pregnant or soon-to-be pregnant women are advised to take 400 micrograms (mg) of folic acid, a type of vitamin B that helps reduce the risk of birth defects. If you’re breastfeeding, taking a vitamin D supplement would be smart, while also stepping outside in the sunshine is also a good idea. There are specially formulated prenatal multivitamins that would be good to research before picking a brand. Pregnant or breast-feeding women should look into vitamins with higher levels of calcium and iron, amongst other nutrients.


For children who tend to be fussier eaters, vitamins may seem like a quick fix to that. Children need all sorts of vitamins to grow up healthy and strong. They also have a faster metabolism and tend to burn up energy, and thus vitamins, quicker than adults. Talk to a doctor or health expert on whether vitamins are necessary for your kids. Most likely, if your child has a healthy diet filled with fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein, they won’t have to use supplemental vitamins.


However, multivitamins have been proven to be sometimes more harmful than helpful. Some multivitamins have been shown to have an excess of a specific ingredient that may cause health problems. In addition, many multivitamins do not actually contain the recommended daily value (DV). Studies have shown that some multivitamins sold in the United States and Canada contain extra ingredients such as lead, which shouldn’t be in your diet, and can lead to high blood pressure. It’s been recommended for pregnant women to avoid vitamin A supplements in order to avoid damage to the development to the baby. Also, be wary of vitamins that offer more than 100% of any vitamin. It’s likely that having over 100% of a vitamin is way too much for your body to handle.


Most multivitamins guarantee that they will boost your immune system and lower risks of chronic diseases. However, there have been clinical trials that have found that taking vitamin supplements do not actually lower risk of diseases in comparison to those who do not take vitamin supplements, according to consumerreports.org. There have also been studies and surveys done that suggest that most people who take the multivitamins are also the people who eat well, exercise, and have generally better, healthier habits. Because of these surveys, vitamin companies have taken advantage of the healthy habits these people have developed and claim that their vitamins have caused such healthy users, causing a misrepresentation.


Another problem with people taking vitamin supplements is that they’re just not taking them correctly. When a vitamin’s directions say to take it with food, do so. Drinking tea or coffee soon after taking your vitamins has a tendency to interfere with the way your body absorbs the vitamins.



While vitamin supplements have their place and can be helpful on occasion, eating a healthy, balanced diet and having a healthy routine are generally better than taking supplements. If your body lacks the ability to process natural vitamins or your particular needs require you to take supplements, read the labels, consult with a doctor or health expert, and take the supplements accordingly and safely.


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