Food is the best and the most cost-effective way of taking all the essential nutrients necessary to maintain your health. Nowadays, people have become wiser when it comes to choosing healthy foods. However, in some cases, it isn’t easy to eat enough food to keep your body’s vitamins and mineral content at a normal level. Therefore, it is necessary to switch to vitamins and other nutritional supplements.
Vitamin and mineral supplements are vital for people who cannot fulfill their body’s nutritional requirements through a balanced diet.
There is a wide variety of vitamins available on the market, which leaves people thinking, “what vitamins should I take?” If you are also wondering which vitamin is suitable for you or what features a premium quality dietary supplement must-have, this article has the answers.
We have thoroughly explained the “who, when, and why” questions about vitamins. So, let’s get started!
General Research On Supplements
Nowadays people follow numerous kinds of diets including gluten-free diets and keto diets sometimes adversely affect glucose and lipid metabolism and also raise the risk of metabolic syndrome. Supplements are necessary to help your body maintain healthy levels of vitamins, vital acids, and minerals. While a balanced diet is sufficient for some people to sustain body nutrients, it is not enough for others. This is where supplements come in.
Moreover, supplements are vital in speeding up recovery processes and preventing illness. For instance, vitamin D and calcium aid the body in strengthening bones and repairing fractures. Minerals are also essential for optimum body functions. Minerals are vital for your bones, brain, heart, and muscles. Furthermore, they are key in making enzymes and hormones.
Another healthy supplement with medical benefits is omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish. Omega-3 fatty acids boost blood flow by keeping artery linings smooth. They promote a healthy heart by lowering triglyceride levels, and they decrease inflammation.
Vitamins are also crucial in maintaining a fit and healthy body. We shall explore their benefits further in this article.
Who Needs Vitamins Or Nutritional Supplements?
First of all, let’s find out who should take the vitamins.
Pregnant and Lactating Women: Every woman who wants to get or is already pregnant needs vitamins. Moreover, if you are a breastfeeding woman, you should also take vitamins. As the body goes through a series of hormonal changes, it uses your body’s nutritional content. However, seeking professional medical advice before taking any supplements is important.
Individuals with Insufficient Sun Exposure: People who do not get enough sun exposure often suffer from vitamin D deficiency. This deficiency is also common in people who avoid drinking milk and other dairy products.
People Older than 50 Years: As our age progresses, the ability of our body’s nutrients to absorb in our bloodstream decreases. Therefore, it is necessary to take all the vitamins required.
Infants and Children: Infants and children under the age of one need vitamins daily for the proper nourishment of their bodies.
People Under Restricted Diet: Some people cannot eat certain foods due to medical restrictions and need vitamin supplements for disease control. Moreover, many healthy people eliminate a food group by choices such as vegans and vegetarians. They need vitamins and other supplements for disease control, such as heart disease.
Common Symptoms Of Vitamin Deficiencies
There are countless benefits of a healthy dinner and balanced diet. However, your body will show signs and symptoms if you are not taking enough of all vitamins and nutrients. Therefore, it is vital to check your body keenly and if you observe any of the following symptoms, do rush to the doctor:
- Extreme hair loss and brittle nails
- Intense joint pain
- Bleeding gums
- Pain and prolonged tiredness
- Irregular heartbeat
- Changes in the vision
- Slow healing of the wounds
If you are observing any of these symptoms, then there is a strong possibility that your body is suffering from nutrient deficiency.
Safety Of Commonly Used Vitamins
In general, vitamins do not cause any harmful effects on your body. But, like medicines, vitamin and mineral supplements can also cause dangerous side effects to your body. Therefore, it is vital to beware of the dosage recommendations and potentially harmful effects of any vitamins and supplements beforehand.
Generally, any medicine or supplement can cause one or a few of these potentially harmful effects:
- Adverse Effects: Can be high or low risk, for the long-term or short term. Checking these effects is of utmost importance during nursing, pregnancy, and older age.
- Interactions With Other Medications: The vitamins and supplements, called drug-drug interaction, can interact with other medicines. This interaction can cause enzymatic changes in your body.
- Cost: Supplements can prove costly, especially if they do not prove effective or cause other health issues.
- Lack Of Effectiveness: Low-quality medicines or vitamins may prove to be ineffective.
- Fraud: Drugs or supplements bought from unreliable companies can attract you to false claims.
- Medication Burden: Increased number of medicines can pose a psychological burden on your health.
Vitamins That Can Cause Harm
The required intake level of vitamin A is about 700 to 900 micrograms per day. A higher intake of vitamin A than the tolerable limit can cause dizziness, headache, rash, pain in joints, nausea, and in extreme circumstances, coma and death.
A healthy adult requires about 75 to 90 milligrams of vitamin C daily. Excessive intake of vitamin C does not cause life-threatening issues. However, overdosage of vitamin C can result in diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and nausea.
A healthy adult requires about 15 micrograms of vitamin D daily. Vitamin D is also called “sunshine vitamin.” This is because sun rays are the best source of this vitamin. Other than that, fortified foods are a great source of adding vitamin D to your diet. Regarding overdose of vitamin D supplements, it can increase the calcium level in your system, which is harmful to your kidneys and heart health.
The average required dosage of vitamin E for an adult is 15 milligrams. Overdosage of vitamin E is especially harmful to people taking anticoagulating or blood thinning medications. Moreover, taking vitamin E in excessive amounts can cause bleeding.
The average daily recommended amount of vitamin B6 is 1.3 milligrams. A high level of vitamin B6 can cause light sensitivity, nausea, or, in severe cases, nerve damage.
Folic acid is a B-complex vitamin, and a healthy adult requires about 400 micrograms of folate. Overdose of folic acid supplements can cause vitamin B12 deficiency, and this deficiency can lead to nerve damage.
Choline is another B-complex vitamin, and this vitamin is essential for the proper functioning of several biological processes. A healthy male requires about 550 milligrams of choline, whereas a healthy female requires 425 milligrams of choline per day. Excessive choline intake can cause low blood pressure, body odor, sweating, and liver problems.
In brief, it is essential to take the recommended dose of vitamins.
Tips For Taking Vitamins
Indeed, a regular intake of vitamins and other nutrients is vital for a fit and healthy body. An extensive range of vitamin and mineral supplements is available on the market. These cater to varying nutrient and vitamin deficiencies. So, finding out which vitamins and minerals your body needs is important.
Moreover, we all have different metabolism, and people may react differently to the same diet or supplements. Therefore, it is not certain that a vitamin supplement good for one person will positively affect another. So, you must consult a medically registered dietician before consuming any vitamins or dietary supplements.
Furthermore, do consider the following essential tips for taking vitamins and minerals.
Always Follow The Instructions
Regardless of the supplement or pill you are consuming, it is crucial to read the instructions on the packaging carefully. All the reliable and trustworthy brands mention necessary information about taking the supplements on the label. This information includes the correct time to take the vitamins, recommended dosage, and whether you should take them during a meal.
This detailed information is meant to keep you safe and healthy. These instructions depend on the type of nutrient, percentage of different nutrients, and the purpose of taking the supplements.
So, you may need to follow different instructions for different vitamins or nutrients. You should also read the expiration date of the vitamins on the nutrition labels. It may be unsafe to consume vitamins after the expiration date.
Take The Vitamins With The Right Food
Before consuming supplements, knowing the different types of vitamins and their basic characteristics is vital. Our body requires 13 vitamins to function properly. There are two types of vitamins, fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins. Four of these vitamins are fat-soluble, and nine are water-soluble. The fat-soluble vitamins include A, K, E, and D.
The water-soluble vitamins include C and B complex. Vitamin B complex, as the name suggests, has many variants. The eight variants are B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9), and B12. These vitamins also go by thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, biotin, folate, and cobalamine.
As the terms indicate, the water-soluble vitamins dissolve in the water, whereas fat-soluble vitamins dissolve in the fat.
Considering the nature of the vitamins, you should take fat-soluble vitamins with meals containing dietary fats. For instance, you can take these vitamins with beef, duck, fish, pork, and full-fat yogurt. These vitamins first dissolve in the fat and then absorb in the bloodstream.
Concerning consuming water-soluble vitamins, it is not essential to take them with fat-containing meals. You can take these vitamins with any food regularly. However, it is noteworthy that water-soluble vitamins do not easily store in your body and usually get washed out.
A lack of certain water-soluble vitamins can cause serious health, so it is vital to maintain a normal level of these vitamins. Plus, these vitamins get speedily excreted through urine; you may take them more often, as per professional medical advice.
Be Cautious Of Taking Vitamins With Other Medications
Healthy adults who are not taking any medicine concerning any health issue can take any vitamin supplements, as advised by the doctor. However, If you are suffering from any medical condition, consult a qualified health provider before taking any vitamin.
The reason behind this caution is that many vitamins can interfere with certain medications, thus causing harmful side effects. For instance, vitamin K may interfere with blood thinners and antibiotics.
Choose Reliable Supplements’ Brand
One of the most important things to consider when taking any vitamins is to get your vitamins from a reliable source. The healthy industry is progressing impressively with every passing day. It is important to buy vitamins approved by the local food and nutrition board.
Social media has made spreading information all around the world simple and easy. With the availability of information about varying health issues such as skin and bone health, people have become conscious of their health. Thus, you can find many brands producing essential vitamins and other nutritional supplements.
Indeed, the availability of various brands on the internet gives you a range of options to choose from. Still, choosing the right brand that offers efficient and potent supplements from the lot can be confusing. Importantly, when buying medications, it is crucial to select the right brand. Else, it can cause harmful side effects.
In addition to choosing the right brand, you should also consider choosing the suitable form of the vitamin. For instance, vitamin D is available in two forms, vitamin D2, and vitamin D3. Similarly, vitamin K is available in three forms, vitamin K1, vitamin K2 MK-4, and Vitamin K2 MK-7.
The nature and functions of all these various forms of vitamins are different. Therefore, it is essential to seek professional medical advice and test which form of vitamin your body requires.
Additionally, only buy third-party tested products. The supplements must have the approval of NSF (National Science Foundation), USP (US Pharmacopeia), or any other third party.
It is not wise to go beyond the recommended dosage for any supplements. Overdose of supplements can cause severe health conditions. Plus, taking two the next day can be harmful if you have missed one of your daily doses.
Be Extra Cautious During Pregnancy And Nursing A Child
It is not wise to take any extra or new vitamins without consulting your doctor during pregnancy and nursing. Your body is going through a set of hormonal changes during this period. Thus, taking extra pills can harm your or your baby’s health.
Tips For Storing Vitamins
It is essential to properly store the vitamins and mineral supplements to maintain their maximum potency and efficiency. The humidity, temperature, and light alterations can modify the vitamins’ efficacy. Therefore, it is advisable to carefully read the instructions on the label to ensure the proper storage of supplements.
Here are some tips and guidelines to help you correctly store the vitamins.
Store The Vitamins In A Cool And Dry Place
Storing vitamins and supplements in a cool and dry place is vital to conserve their quality and efficacy. Generally, people keep their vitamins and nutrient supplements in the refrigerator.
Although the fridge is a cool place to keep these dietary supplements, it also has a high moisture level. High moisture content can drastically impact the efficacy and shelf life of the vitamins. Therefore, it is better not to store the vitamins in the fridge. However, do check out the manufacturer’s storage guidelines for particular vitamins.
Depending upon nutrients and their percentage in the supplements, the manufacturers may instruct to keep them in the refrigerator.
Be Mindful Of The Expiration Date
Just like to keep track of the expiration or “best before” date of any food item, It is crucial to check the expiration date on the packaging of the supplements as well. Although expired vitamins will not pose any harmful health issues, you may also not get any health benefits.
Moreover, all vitamin supplements have a specific shelf life. The efficiency and potency of the vitamins decrease with time, and after the specified time limit, the supplements will not offer potential health benefits. So, it is best to discard expired vitamin supplements.
Avoid Changing The Packaging
It is wise to keep the vitamin supplements in their original containers. It is a common practice for some people to redistribute their supplements from large to small containers. Generally, people do so to keep the vitamins in multiple places, like one container at home and one in a travel bag.
Furthermore, avoid mixing different types of vitamins in a single bottle. Though these practices may seem feasible, they are certainly not advisable. Possibly, some vitamins or certain other nutrients may require specific packaging for their optimal efficacy. Thus, transferring the vitamins into different bottles and combining different supplements.
Keep Vitamins Safe From Heat And Humidity
It is necessary to keep the vitamins safe from high temperature and humidity. Many vitamins and nutrients lose their efficiency and potency due to excessive heat, light, and high moisture content.
These harsh environmental conditions speed up the degradation of all the nutrients. This point is important as many people store vitamins and other essential nutrient supplements in their kitchen cabinets.
Typically, the kitchen’s temperature and humidity level do not remain the same. The general reason behind keeping these supplements in the kitchen is to remember to take them with the meal, as advised by the doctor. If that is the case, storing them in your dining room or nearby cabinets is the best.
The same goes for storing the vitamins in the bathroom cabinet. Storing all sorts of pills and supplements in the bathroom cabinet is a common practice. But keeping the vitamins in a bathroom’s confined and humid space can badly affect their efficiency and age. So, instead of storing the vitamin bottles near the shower, you can keep them in the bedroom.
The Best Time To Take Different Types Of Vitamins
In addition to “what vitamins should I take,” it is also important to know “when should I take vitamins.” Generally, you can take vitamins at any time of the day. But considering that different vitamins absorb your body differently, it is better to know the best time to take these vitamins.
You can either take the vitamin B complex or the singular B vitamins sold individually, depending upon your body’s requirement. You can take these vitamins at any time of the day, with or without a meal. However, considering the B complex’s significance in metabolism and energy production, the experts recommend taking it in the morning.
Furthermore, taking B vitamins first thing in the morning on an empty stomach guarantees maximum nutrient absorption.B7, also known as Biotin, helps in strengthening the hair and increases its intensity. Eating bananas or drinking milk will boost the biotin in our bodies. However, some people prefer taking collagen supplements.
You can find a wide variety of vitamin C supplements on the market. These varieties offer different forms of vitamin C, including ascorbic acid, calcium ascorbate, liposomal vitamin C, ascorbyl palmitate, ascorbic acid with rose hips, and ascorbic acid with bioflavonoids.
You can take these forms of Vitamin C at any time of the day, with or without any food. But considering the acidic nature of this vitamin, the experts recommend taking it with food, thus improving food digestion.
Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin D, And Vitamin K
You can take vitamin A, D, E, and K supplements at any time of the day. The only important thing to consider is to take these fat-soluble vitamins with fat-enriched foods.
Factors Affecting The Shelf Life Of The Vitamins
Generally, the efficacy and potency of the vitamins remain unchanged for about two years after the manufacturing date. However, this period is an ideal duration and is conditioned to the following best storage conditions. Check the vitamins’ packaging to ensure the correct shelf life of the vitamins.
Several factors can alter the vitamins’ potency, efficiency, and shelf life. Following are a few of the most important factors that can decrease the effectiveness and shelf life of vitamins.
- Type of vitamin supplements- All vitamins are sensitive to heat, light, and moisture, as described earlier. But some vitamins are more sensitive to harsh environmental conditions than others. For instance, vitamin B12 is highly sensitive to light and humidity but is comparatively tolerable for oxygen and heat. Similarly, vitamin K can withstand heat and moisture but is highly sensitive to oxygen and light.
- Form of the supplements- The vitamins are available in tablet, capsule, and chewable gummy forms. Among all these forms, vitamins available in chewable gummy form degrade faster. The reason behind the speedy degradation of gummy form is that it has the highest tendency to absorb moisture.
- Container or type of packaging- The ideal packaging or container for storing vitamins is an amber-colored, air-tight glass jar. The amber color is great for restricting light contact with the vitamins, and the air-tight lids will keep the oxygen and moisture away. Keeping the vitamins in plastic jars or their contact with moisture, light, or air will decrease their shelf life.
Most Common Nutritional Deficiencies
Vitamins and minerals are essential for the normal functioning of our body. A balanced diet delivers all types of important nutrients to your body. However, if your diet does not contain all the necessary nutrients, you may have certain nutritional deficiencies. Following are some of the most common nutrient deficiencies.
Iron is one of the most vital nutrients for our body, and this mineral is the basic component of red blood cells (RBCs). In RBCs, the iron binds with hemoglobin protein and functions to transport the oxygen to the cells.
Severe iron deficiency can cause chronic diseases. According to the WHO (World Health Organization) study, over 25% of people worldwide have iron deficiency. In many cases, iron deficiency causes iron deficiency anemia. In iron deficiency anemia, your red blood cell count drops.
Moreover, the function of iron absorption in your bloodstream also decreases. With a low red blood cell count, the normal functioning of your blood to carry oxygen decreases, thus paving the way for heart disease. Therefore, It is crucial to take iron supplements to maintain the normal level of iron in your bloodstream.
Vitamin A Deficiency
Vitamin A is essential for maintaining bones, teeth, and skin health.
Its deficiency is more prevalent in developing countries. According to a study on the prevalence of vitamin A deficiency, about 40 to 50% of school-going children have significantly lower levels of vitamin A in their blood. A lack of all the vitamins can lead to chronic diseases. Therefore, adding vitamin A-rich foods and supplements to the daily routine is essential.
Iodine is among the topmost vital minerals, and iodine is crucial for healthy thyroid function. With the lack of iodine in your body, the thyroid cannot produce enough thyroid hormones. The decreased level of thyroid hormones is the main reason for several physical and developmental abnormalities such as low IQ levels and mental retardation. Unfortunately, Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) are very common worldwide, affecting about one-third of the human population.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins and minerals to maintain health, and a normal level of this vitamin is crucial to support our bone health. Due to a lack of direct exposure to sunlight and unhealthy eating practices, this deficiency is becoming common in America. According to some estimates, about 42% of Americans have vitamin D deficiency. To fill your body with vitamin D, you must take their supplements.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, is another vital vitamin necessary for blood formation and nerve function. It is one of those vitamins and minerals essential for the normal functioning of every body’s biological process, but your body cannot produce it. Hence, you need to eat vitamin B12-enriched food or regularly take vitamin supplements.
The common food sources of vitamin B12 include eggs, meat, milk products, and shellfish. Therefore, vitamin B12 deficiency is common in vegan or vegetarian people.
Final Thoughts: Which Vitamin You Must Take Daily?
The main reason for vitamin deficiency is our unhealthy lifestyle. A normal level of vitamins and minerals in your body is necessary for a good and fit body. Due to the hustle of the modern world, people lose track of the healthy diet plan and gravitate toward junk food. These damaging practices destroy your health and may give rise to a nutrient deficiency.
The type of vitamin deficiency depends upon the lack of certain nutrients in your routine. Thus you need to know what kind of vitamins to consume the correct supplements. So, consult a qualified health provider to test which nutrients you require to get a fit and healthy body.
Furthermore, in addition to adding recommended dietary supplements to your routine, healthy eating is also necessary for disease prevention. In brief, maintain a healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly, eating healthy food, and taking the right vitamins.