Blog , Health and Wellness

Are Vitamins Good for Me?

Posted on Monday, June 24, 2024
by AMAC, D.J. Wilson

Multivitamins are generally presumed safe and beneficial when taken in adequate doses. However, when addressing the question “Are vitamins good for me?” one answer does not fit all. Individuals have varying nutritional needs and health requirements and limitations, so a doctor who is familiar with a patient’s personal health history is best suited to answer the question. Additionally, the manufacturer/supplier must be reliable. Let’s explore more on this interesting subject.

Eating right

Eating a balanced diet is key to good health. Those who lack well-rounded and healthy diets may suffer vitamin and mineral deficiencies. People on specific diet plans, such as the South Beach or Paleo diet, or those who exclude certain food groups, may be lacking in certain vitamins and minerals. To ensure adequate intake of nutrients while on specialty diets, patients should dialogue with their physicians or dieticians to understand which supplements are worth taking.

So many ads!

There are a lot of advertisements out there for supplements and it can be hard to know what you’re supposed to do. Most medical experts believe that taking a daily multivitamin is likely fine but may not always be necessary. Health expert WebMD shares advice on vitamins and supplements from Jerlyn Jones, a registered dietician and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Most healthy people don’t need one. But some folks may need extra help.” She expounds, “Reasons include if you’re elderly, take certain medicines, or don’t have easy access to healthy food because of income or where you live.” Taking the right supplements for your health when needed is important.

Supplements & Pregnancy                                             

Pregnant women are typically prescribed prenatal vitamins to provide nutrients for mother and baby. Folic acid is a valuable component of those supplements as it helps prevent birth defects of the brain and spine. Folic acid is also needed to make red and white blood cells, according to the Mayo Clinic. So, clearly there are some strong benefits of taking vitamins, particularly for those who need a boost.

Why supplements matter

eMedicineHealth shares, “Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients. You don’t need much, just milligrams to micrograms a day, but if you don’t get enough or the right kinds of vitamins and minerals, essential functions of the body cannot happen.” Signs and symptoms of deficiencies can appear in people but vary based on the specific vitamins or minerals that are lacking. There are minimum requirements for the amounts of vitamins and minerals a person needs. Additionally, if a person takes too much of a specific vitamin or mineral, they may also experience signs and symptoms associated with excess intake. For example, too much vitamin A is associated with birth defects and hip fractures.

Vitamin D & calcium

Many people consider taking supplements of vitamin D and calcium. Calcium is a mineral, rather than a vitamin, and both are good for bone health. Vitamin D is associated with decreased risk of cancer, though more studies are needed for absolute conclusion. When a patient is lacking vitamin D and calcium needed for optimal skeletal health, it is likely the doctor will prescribe changes to the diet or the addition of vitamin D and calcium supplements. Generally, older people should take more of these essential nutrients due to bone loss and other age-related issues.

The low-down

People with vitamin deficiencies may require supplements for their bodies to function properly.  However, Larry Appel, M.D. of the Johns Hopkins Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research, offers this reminder, “Pills are not a shortcut to better health and the prevention of chronic diseases.” He explains that other nutrition recommendations have “much stronger evidence of benefits,” such as eating a healthy diet. Eating for wellness can be achieved by following dietary guidelines as established by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) using RDAs (average daily intake of essential nutrients sufficient to meet the requirements of healthy individuals.)

Not all vitamin/supplements are equal

Supplements are not regulated by the FDA in the same way as drugs, per WebMD. For example, the FDA doesn’t review these supplements for safety or efficacy before they hit the market. They caution that folks must do their research and be careful when shopping for new products. Supplements are not good for people with certain health conditions, so always consult your doctor first. WebMD suggests being wary of supplements made outside of the U.S., as many aren’t regulated, and some have toxic ingredients. Also, choose brands labeled with NSF International, US Pharmacopeia, Underwriters Laboratory, or Consumer Lab seals that help verify contents.

The best practice

The best practice of all to ensure the adequate intake of essential nutrients is to eat healthy, maintain optimal weight, exercise, and reduce unhealthy practices. It’s also important to have a frank and honest discussion with a medical practitioner to review your specific nutritional needs. In some cases, doctors may require blood tests to gain more insight into a patient’s health. This, of course, is beneficial as it provides an accurate picture of what’s happening in the body to put patients on the best course of action, whether it be to improve the diet or add needed supplements.

This article is purely informational and is not a medical resource or a substitute for medical advice. People with medical concerns or questions about vitamins and nutritional supplements should check with their personal physician.

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Judi Elster
Judi Elster
19 days ago

Always a good practice to have good scientific information to check what you are supplementing. Never a bad thing to question particularly over time.
What was good when you were 35 is not necessarily good at 80.

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