Dietary supplements include vitamins, fish oil, herbs, minerals like calcium, and more. And if you take one, you’re not alone. About half of U.S. adults do. But should you?
Food is the best way to get your vitamins and minerals. But it sometimes can be hard to eat enough fresh veggies, fruits, whole grains, and other healthy options. A multivitamin can be a safe way to boost your nutrients.
However, due to limited regulation, it’s not always clear which supplements are high quality, nor which are a waste of your money or even potentially dangerous.
This guide covers all you need to know about what supplements are and how to choose Vitamin and high quality product.
Many vitamins and nutrients are necessary for a healthy life, but you may not be getting enough of them. Deciding whether or not you need vitamin supplements is difficult enough, and given the vast amount of brands and products, choosing the right supplement can make your decision even more confusing. Talk to a dietitian about what vitamins and nutrients you may be lacking in your diet and talk to your doctor about whether or not taking supplements is right for you
if you do choose to take a multivitamin, it’s important that you speak with your personal physician or nutritionist to discuss the type of dietary supplement and dosage that will best complement your body type and lifestyle.
The premise of a multivitamin is simple. A supplement that combines all the extra nourishment you need in a handy once-a-day dose. So, why is it so difficult to choose Vitamin? Here we explain more about the role of these supplements to help you work out what’s the best multivitamin for you.
What Is A Vitamin And Mineral Supplement?
A vitamin and mineral supplement provides a variety of nutrients that are also found in food. These supplements are often called multivitamins. They come in the form of pills, chewable tablets, powders, and liquids.
A standard multivitamin usually contains:
- Water-soluble vitamins. These vitamins pass in and out of the body easily. Most do not build up in the body’s cells. Water-soluble vitamins include vitamin C and the B vitamins: thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, B6, biotin, folic acid, and B12.
- Fat-soluble vitamins. These vitamins are stored in the body’s cells and do not pass out of the body as easily as water-soluble vitamins do. Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, and K.
- Minerals. These include calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and zinc.
Some multivitamins also contain other ingredients that aren’t vitamins or minerals. These include substances such as the antioxidants lutein and lycopene.
How to Choose Vitamin Supplements
Who Needs Vitamin Supplements?
In general, taking vitamin and mineral supplements is not necessary for healthy adults with adequate intakes of these nutrients. While it’s preferred to get these essential nutrients through your diet, some may struggle to do so.
There are also certain instances in which supplements may be indicated. Individuals who may benefit from supplements include:
- women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
- exclusively or partially breastfed infants
- adults or children with diagnosed nutritional deficiencies
- individuals with conditions causing nutrient malabsorption
- those who have undergone bariatric surgery, such as gastric bypass
- adults or children with restricted access to foods
- some vegans and vegetarians
Some nutrient deficiencies are also more common, for example, vitamin D.
Unlike other vitamins, it’s difficult to get enough vitamin D from your diet alone. While your body can make vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, it’s estimated that one billion people worldwide have low levels of this vitamin.
Frequently wearing sunscreen, living far north or south of the equator, staying indoors, and having darker skin are all risk factors for being deficient in vitamin D.
Furthermore, older adults may not be as effective at synthesizing vitamin D due to biological changes in the skin that naturally occur with age.
As a result, vitamin D supplements are commonly recommended.
If you’re concerned about getting adequate vitamins and minerals from food alone, talk with your healthcare provider for personalized recommendations regarding the type of supplement you may need, as well as the appropriate dose.
Additionally, while prenatal vitamins are recommended during pregnancy and sometimes while breastfeeding, these populations should avoid herbal supplements unless a medical provider suggests otherwise .
Considering Your Vitamin Needs
Consider your lifestyle and diet. Vitamin supplements, as you may have guessed, are meant provide any vitamins and minerals that are lacking in your diet. Track what you eat to see if there are specific vitamins and minerals lacking in your diet, and look for supplements that include those nutrients.
If you are vegetarian or vegan, for instance, some key nutrients like vitamin B12 are mostly found in animal products. In this case, you will want to take vegan B12 supplements.
It may be helpful to track what you eat for a week, then bring this information to a dietitian to assess what vitamins you might need to supplement.
Be mindful of other health considerations. If you have an existing medical condition, such as chronic muscle pain, acne, depression, high blood pressure, and so on, you may want to consider vitamins that have been known to help alleviate the symptoms of your condition.
While not a cure for depression, studies have shown that vitamin C can have mood-elevating effects.
Vitamin D can be a useful supplement for those with muscle pain.
Vitamin D and calcium can be used to help treat osteoporosis
Think about your environment. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that we get from many foods as well as exposure to the sun. Being exposed to the sun for as little as 10 minutes is thought to prevent deficiency, but if you rarely or never get sun exposure, taking vitamin D supplements can help you maintain healthy levels of this important nutrient.
Talk to your physician or dietitian. Ask your doctor if a vitamin supplement is right for you. Vitamins can be purchased online or in most pharmacies without a prescription, but your doctor will be able to help you decide which, if any, supplements best suit your health needs.
- Never start a supplement without talking to your doctor first, especially if you are taking other medications.
- Your doctor can order blood tests so you can be certain of what vitamins you should be supplementing, if any.
What Should You Look For When You Pick A Supplement?
- Choose Vitamin that provides a variety of vitamins and minerals (a multivitamin) rather than a supplement that provides only a single vitamin or mineral (unless your doctor or dietitian has recommended that you take an individual vitamin or mineral).
- Pick one that, along with the foods you eat, provides the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for each vitamin and mineral. Supplements that provide a lot more than the RDA can cause health problems. This is especially important for minerals and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. These are stored more easily in the body, and they can build up to dangerous levels.
- Check the expiration date. Do not buy supplements that have expired or that will expire before you can finish the bottle.
- If the supplement has a Natural Product Number (NPN) or a Homeopathic Medicine Number (DIN-HM), the supplement meets Health Canada’s standards for safety, quality, and health claims.
- Check the label for other ingredients. Some supplements may contain food ingredients, such as wheat, corn, eggs, or gelatin. If you have a food allergy or are sensitive to these foods, look for supplements that don’t have those ingredients.
Focus On Your Diet Over Supplementation.
A multivitamin should be a supportive addition to your health routine rather than becoming the primary source of essential vitamins and minerals. Your body will feel and function at its best when you eat a well-rounded nutritious diet, giving you the best chance at dissolving nutrients efficiently and obtaining the most bioavailable version of the vitamins present. Making a habit of eating whole-foods is a sustainable and less expensive way of getting the nutrients that your body needs. It’s also a great way to crowd out less nutritional food choices, as you will be prioritizing foods that provide the nourishment you need to improve and maintain your health.
The Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s Health Coach Training Program curriculum covers these foundational nutrition concepts, as well as dives deeper into more advanced nutrition science, to provide a well-rounded health education. Download the Curriculum Guide today to gain an understanding of the many factors that contribute to creating holistic health.
Check The Date On The Bottle
If you take a supplement that’s a year or more out of date, you might not get the potency you’ve signed up for. “When it comes to vitamins and minerals, the expiration date is basically an indicator of quality. Wait too long past the expiration date to open that bottle and you may not be getting that full 1000 milligrams of vitamin D,” says Planells. His rule of thumb: If it’s less than six months past the date, you’re probably fine. After six months, properly dispose of any remaining supplements.