Sometimes you might feel like your diet isn't good enough and that it doesn't provide you with enough vitamins. You rush to get some over-the-counter products, attracted by promises that you see on the ads, but are those promises true? Will you get glowing skin from more vitamin E? Will your hair grow faster when you take more vitamin B? Can you improve immunity with vitamin D?
Vitamins and minerals have been present in the US market since the early 1940s. The vitamin craze is more intense than ever, and one-third of US residents consume supplements to make up for vitamin deficiency. But do you need them?
According to statistics, your body needs 13 vitamins and 15 minerals to function properly. Some of those are A, D, E, K, as well as B complex and vitamin C. But what are the dos and don'ts when it comes to vitamins?
Know When to Take Them
Even though there's still not sufficient evidence on how much vitamins are recommended for you daily, one thing is sure—you shouldn't take too much. You also should pay attention to what type of vitamins you're taking at a particular time of day and which vitamins and minerals you shouldn't combine.
Since your metabolism slows down during the night, you may not be able to absorb enough nutrients from your supplementation. Instead, you should take your vitamins during the day or early in the morning.
The early morning routine is great when it comes to water-soluble vitamins—C vitamin and B complex—because they absorb better on an empty stomach. Fat-soluble vitamins—A, D, K, and E—should be taken with food to avoid an upset stomach.
Some examples of what you shouldn't combine are vitamin C and iron with vitamin D and calcium. Combining vitamin C with an iron supplement will boost the absorption effects of vitamin C. If you take calcium, you'll want to combine it with vitamin D for better absorption. But you'll want to keep your calcium and iron supplements separate during the day.
Do You Need More Vitamins?
If you're an average healthy adult, you probably don't need additional vitamins. But if you belong to the elderly, take some medicines, or live in an area where access to high-quality food is limited, you'll want to think about vitamin supplements.
Reach out to your doctor if you plan a pregnancy or are already pregnant, eat a restricted diet, had gastric bypass surgery, or have genetic or other health issues that may affect your vitamin absorption, such as:
- Celiac disease
- Liver disease
- Autoimmune disorder
- Alcohol dependence
The Dos and Don’ts of Vitamin Consumption
You may also consider taking vitamins if you feel chronic fatigue, live a stressful lifestyle, or experience brain fog. However, there are certain rulers you have to follow when taking vitamins. Take a look at the following lists of dos and don'ts regarding vitamin consumption.
- Watch your dosage. Read the label and consult with your doctor. Taking too many vitamins can cause adverse side effects like vomiting or liver damage.
- Take your vitamins as directed. This is especially important if you're on any medication since some vitamins may interact with them or the food you consume.
- Keep them properly stored. Read the storing info on the label and keep them away from children.
- Replace a well-balanced diet with vitamins. There's a reason why those are supplements and not real food—they are there to give you what your food is possibly lacking.
- Assume your friend's supplements are right for you too. Everyone's different and has different dietary habits. What gives excellent results with your friend may not do the same for you.
- Push yourself to take vitamins if you feel a side effect. Consult with your doctor instead, and explain what you're experiencing. Excessive intake of some vitamins may result in hypervitaminosis, which leads to toxic shock symptoms.
Basic Facts on Vitamins
Although vitamin supplements help individuals with vitamin deficiency, most people usually don’t need them. However, it’s important to learn how vitamins affect us and only consider supplementation if there’s a deficiency.
Let’s take a look at the benefits of different vitamins, how they help us stay healthy, and what happens if we take too much.
Vitamin A helps your immune system, vision, and skin. You should be able to get enough of vitamin A with your diet. You should also know that the portion of the vitamin that isn't used gets stored in your body, so you don't need it every day.
High doses of vitamin A can affect your bones, which can be harmful to your baby during pregnancy.
You need this vitamin to maintain the health of your bones and muscles. If you like to spend time outside, you're in luck, since your body will create vitamin D while you're in direct sunlight. Since this vitamin comes from sunlight, you won't need any supplementation from March to September. But if you don’t leave the house often, wear clothes that cover your skin, or have dark skin, you might need to supplement vitamin D throughout the year.
Taking too much vitamin D over long periods will result in hypercalcemia, which is the buildup of calcium. The recommended daily intake is ten micrograms.
This is another vitamin that boosts the immune system response and keeps the skin and eyes healthy. More research needs to be done to determine the effects of high doses of this vitamin.
If you need more vitamin E, include spinach in your diet.
Vitamin K affects blood clotting, and it regulates the healing of wounds. Vitamin K is usually used as a treatment for coumarin poisoning. More research needs to be done on high doses of vitamin K, but you should be able to get enough of it through a balanced diet.
Vitamin C is essential for the biosynthesis of collagen and certain neurotransmitters, and it's also involved in the metabolism of proteins. You can't synthesize vitamin C in your body, and that's why you should take it via food or supplementation.
The recommended intake for adult males is 90 mg, and for females, it’s 75 mg. In case you're a smoker, you need 35 mg more of vitamin C daily. Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of this vitamin.
It’s important to note that vitamin C deficiency can lead to scurvy.
Vitamin B complex helps speed the metabolism and break down the energy from foods, so it's best you take it after breakfast. If you're pregnant, you'll need more vitamin B, since your body will develop new cells. Taking it while pregnant protects your baby from neural-tube defects, according to a study done in 2007.
There's a lot of dos and don'ts when it comes to vitamins. You need to know their type so that you know when you should take them, and you should be aware of what specific vitamin does to your body so that you decide whether you need them. A balanced diet can provide your body with most of the vitamins that you need. And regularly going outside can help you get enough vitamin D.
Remember always to consult your doctor if you feel any inconvenience, especially if you're pregnant, take any medications, or suffer from an illness. Moreover, even though you can purchase vitamins over the counter, you shouldn’t treat them like candy. Use vitamin supplements wisely to reap all the benefits.