What Vitamins Do I Really Need?

A pile of different types of vitamins(BlackDoctor.org) — Nowadays, it seems like everyone has a cabinet full of vitamins and minerals that are touted to “fix”, “repair” or “erase” something.  We have to think back to the days when no one took supplements, had an active lifestyle, and ate a variety of whole foods; such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats.

While it is important to make sure that we are not deficient in any of the necessary nutrients, the best strategy is to keep it simple.  For the most part, having a balanced diet of delicious, healthy foods can give you all the protection and energy that you need to live a healthy, full life. Although, realistically, in today’s world, we are on the go and rarely do we get all of the nutrients we need to function at our best.

Mulitvitamins: Yes or No?

A multivitamin can supply almost 100% of all the needed vitamins and minerals for an entire day. In addition, we obtain other nutrients from the foods that we eat daily.  Therefore, it is easy for us to over consume some vitamins and minerals.  This can be dangerous in some cases.

There’s Not Just One Type of Vitamin?

There are two types of vitamins: fat-soluble and water-soluble.  Excess amounts of fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin A, D, E, and K, are stored in the liver and can cause toxicity.  On the other hand, water-soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin C and B complex vitamins, are simply excreted in the urine when we have too much.  For this reason, it can be a waste of your dollars to take mega doses of vitamin C in pills or drink mixes, because your body will get rid of most of it.

When Do You Need Vitamins?

Some of us really do need an extra “boost” when it comes to supplements. Specifically if you are trying to lose weight and are eating 1600 calories or less daily you will need to take a multivitamin daily.  Other populations that usually require additional supplementation are people over age 50, vegetarians, menopausal women, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and athletes.

Vitamins & Supplements: Navigate With Care

When choosing a supplement, always ask your doctor or dietitian for a recommendation. Supplements, including multivitamins, are not regulated the same as food and drugs and therefore sometimes manufacturers don’t follow the rules.  Avoid products that are promoted by testimonials from “happy customers” or a celebrity with no authority on this subject.  Look for research based evidence that shows you this product is safe, reliable, and will work for you. Most importantly, remember that a multivitamin or supplement is not a replacement for a healthy diet.

Think about it…wouldn’t you rather a delicious day of healthy meals over a handful of pills?