In today’s booming business of vitamin supplementation backed by endorsements from some health care providers who have turned entrepreneurs, you as a consumer find it confusing determining the claims to believe, what vitamins to take, and how much.
Claims are contradictory about vitamin supplementation.
Let’s Look at Vitamin D
Let’s take Vitamin D for example. Some studies show that a high intake of Vitamin D can be harmful.
While others swear by its benefits, with sun exposure, you can get the needed Vitamin D, experts say, and taking supplements may lead to varying levels in the blood.
Another factor that affects vitamin levels in the body is solubility. Some vitamins are fat soluble like Vitamins A, D, E, and K.
These vitamins, when stored excessively in the body, may lead to toxic effects. Others are water soluble, like Vitamin C and the B-complex vitamins. Taking more than you need is like flushing money in the toilet, literally.
In 2014, the US Preventive Services Task Force released a summary of recommendations regarding vitamin supplementation to prevent cancer and heart diseases. They gave a clear verdict.
Sad to say, they couldn’t find enough evidence to recommend vitamin supplementation to prevent cancer and heart disease, not even for Vitamin E and B-carotene supplements.
Moreover, too much B-carotene can increase your chance of getting lung cancer if you’re a current smoker and have other risks for lung cancer.
On the other hand, vitamin deficiency is just as bad, especially in children and the elderly. In those whose dietary intake lacks the necessary vitamins and minerals, they end up getting sick.
The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee came up with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 2015 to help Americans choose a healthy eating pattern that would provide the needed nutrients and prevent chronic diseases due to poor eating habits.
The basic premise for this guideline is we can meet our nutritional needs primarily from nutrient-dense foods. Why take your vitamins through a pill when you can get it from a healthy meal?
Healthy Eating Pattern
So, what is a healthy eating pattern?
- Eat different types of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairies, and oils rich in omega-3 and omega-6.
- Choose lean sources of protein like seafood, white meat, legumes (beans and peas, nuts, soy products, and seeds.
- Limit intake of food high in saturated and trans fats and those with added sugars and sodium.
But there are instances when you may need to eat foods fortified with vitamins and mineral and take dietary supplements to meet your individual needs:
- If you’re pregnant or want to get pregnant, you will need iron and folic acid supplementation. On the other hand, taking too much Vitamin A supplement may cause congenital disabilities to your baby.
- If you’re on a plant-based diet because it helps control your symptoms of inflammation, you will need to take a Vitamin B-12 supplement. This is even more important if you’re pregnant and breastfeeding because lack of Vitamin B-12 in your baby will result in severe and permanent brain damage.
- If your immune system is down and you caught the colds, Vitamin C may help shorten the duration of your symptoms or make it milder.
Check out the Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets for more information and talk to your healthcare provider.
We Can Help
When it comes to vitamin supplementation, I approach my patients in a personalized way. Everyone has different needs.
By taking a thorough medical and health history, doing a careful assessment, and checking your blood levels for any vitamin deficiency, I can recommend what supplement will benefit you the most.
You don’t need to grab all the bottles of vitamin supplements from A to Z from your local pharmacy, but instead, you’ll learn to be mindful of your choices based on your needs.
Unsure whether you’re taking too little, enough, or too much vitamin supplements? Contact us. We can help.