Vitamins are imperative for a healthy lifestyle, and while some people get everything they need through their diet, others take multivitamins or dietary supplements in order to stay as healthy as possible.
There are plenty of good reasons to consider taking them, and any supplement manufacturer is more than happy to provide them. Reasons to take supplements can range from helping with certain health problems to supplementing specific diets for maximum effectiveness. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding might also consider taking prenatal vitamins to cover potentially lacking nutrients.
Like anything, supplements can be unsafe when used improperly or taken to excess. If you’re considering a supplement routine, it’s always best to be sure you actually need them and create an effective strategy for use. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Consult your doctor
Consulting a doctor should always be your first step when considering any type of supplement, whether it’s vitamins, dietary supplements, or anything else. You’ll likely have plenty of questions, especially if you’re looking at something specific (does Tinnitus 911 work?). The most likely reason a doctor would recommend supplements is to cover any health deficiencies. If you’re already in good health, the likelihood of a recommendation decreases sharply.
Whether vitamins and other supplements do the same thing in pill form as their natural counterparts is a matter of some debate. What’s certain is that it’s possible to get toxic amounts through pills, so directions must be respected. For example, too much vitamin A can eventually lead to the hardening of blood vessels and increase the likelihood of bone problems later in life. Too much vitamin E is associated with a higher risk of heart failure.
Milder side effects of abusing supplements can be things like nausea and frequent cramping. If a doctor does recommend supplements in your case, you need to listen carefully to their recommended dosages.
How are supplements absorbed?
Generally speaking, there are two main ways that the body absorbs supplements. Water soluble vitamins are easily absorbed and best taken on an empty stomach. Most choose to take these first thing in the morning. These are also the safest supplements, since the body doesn’t actually store them. Any excess vitamins are flushed out through urine. The only particular risk with this type of supplement is the possibility of it interfering with some drug tests.
Fat soluble supplements, on the other hand, are absorbed through body fat as the name suggests. It’s typically recommended to take these along with a meal including saturated fats to help the body absorb them. These supplements are a higher risk than water soluble ones since excess vitamins are stored in the liver. This makes these supplements particularly ill-suited for those who consume large amounts of alcohol or who have liver problems.
Creating a strategy
Everyone has a different diet, and because of this, everyone has different considerations when developing their supplement strategy. It’s always recommended that you get as many of your daily nutrients as possible from food, but when that isn’t possible, it’s best to consult the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines to get an idea of how to proceed.
There are some general guidelines; people over 50 should take a vitamin B12 supplement, for example. Those who don’t get much sunlight are advised to take a vitamin D supplement. Otherwise, you’ll need to consider how your supplements interact with your diet for the day since you always want to avoid taking too much of a vitamin or mineral.
You should also ask your doctor about the possibility of supplements interacting with prescription drugs you may be taking, as these interactions can be severe in some cases. Finally, ask your doctor about reliable sources for supplements because quality goes largely unregulated in most cases.