Know Your Vitamin Supplements: Benefits and Myths
Whether you are trying to live a healthy lifestyle, trying to lower the risk of different health issues, you are an active person, you are trying to control your weight, or you are fighting a vitamin deficiency, you may be taking vitamins, minerals and other dietary supplements every day or at least from time to time. And like many people in Australia and around the globe, you may find yourself visiting a vitamin shop, not really knowing a lot about these nutrients, or which things you know about them are true and which are false.
To stay healthy, we need many different beneficial nutrients which we get through the food we consume. These essential nutrients play endless roles in many systems, processes and body functions necessary for our survival. In other words, our bodies use them to work properly. This is why it’s so important to eat a healthy, balanced diet, that provides us with the necessary daily intake of the right nutrients.
The amounts of the nutrients we need on a daily basis are small, but regardless, it can be really hard to provide your body with them solely through food. There are many reasons for this. While the most obvious one is a poor diet composed of fast food, snacks, sweets, even people who try to eat properly aren´t always able to satisfy the daily need of the essential nutrients – consisting of vitamins, minerals, lipids, proteins and carbohydrates. which are the fuel for our bodies. This can be due to a lack of knowledge, time, patience or skills to prepare meals that contain the necessary amount of the essential nutrients.
Reasons to Take Vitamin Supplements
Taking supplements can be a good way to make sure that you take the right nutrients. However, this is not the only reason why you may want to visit a vitamin shop online and start taking dietary supplements. Aside from deficiency of certain vitamins, which can cause a lot of problems depending on how serious the problem is, there are also many different health issues for which your health care provider may recommend that you start taking vitamin supplements.
There are many different reasons why people take supplements, and a lot of those reasons are for specific purposes. This may include improving your immune system, lowering the risk of some health issues, improving your skin, nails or hair health. Nevertheless, there are certain groups of people that may need more of some nutrients for more specific reasons, which is why they use some vitamin supplements. Some examples of such instances are:
- Pregnant people need to take a folic acid supplement to protect their baby and prevent neural tube defects, including spina bifida. (Folic acid is a form of vitamin B9).
- Smokers, because there are indications that they need a bigger intake of vitamin C than non-smokers.
- People with bone health issues, such as arthritis may need to take vitamin D to treat their pain. Vitamin D is also used for strengthening bones.
- Older people may take vitamin A to slow down vision loss.
- People suffering from anaemia take vitamin B12, which prevents anaemia, but it also plays a role in keeping nerve and blood cells healthy.
Note: There are also other types of supplements that you can find in supplement stores, which can be recommended for different types of ailments. These include mineral supplements (such as calcium, magnesium or zinc), fish oil, proteins, melatonin. Like with vitamins, you can also develop a deficiency of some minerals, which can also cause all kinds of health problems.
Most Commonly Used Vitamin Supplements
Vitamins are organic compounds without which our bodies couldn’t work. These organic compounds are referred to by letters, which are sometimes followed by numbers. Some of those are fat-soluble, which means that they can be stored by our bodies, while others are water-soluble and can’t be stored by our bodies. There are 13 vitamins that are currently recognised by scientists: vitamin A, vitamins B (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12), vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin K, of which vitamins B and vitamin C are water-soluble.
Essentially, fat-soluble vitamins can be used by our bodies for longer periods, and depleting their reserves can take weeks or months. In other words, not everyone needs to take supplements for these vitamins. On the other hand, water-soluble vitamins are depleted fast, which is why the most commonly used supplements contain vitamins B and vitamin C.
Concerns about Vitamin Supplements
It should be noted that not everyone needs to take any type of dietary supplement. Moreover, it’s important to know that taking supplements for too long (except if your primary care physician has recommended otherwise) or taking too much, can be harmful. This is why it’s prudent that you talk to your health care provider about how much and which vitamins you should take (this also includes any other type of supplements).
However, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you should never consider taking vitamin or mineral supplements as the main source of any essential nutrient. So, even if you are taking vitamins, minerals or other types of supplements, eating poorly still isn’t a good idea, at all.