Supplements can be used to get the recommended daily amount of vitamins and minerals your body needs for optimal health. While it's best to get these nutrients from a well-balanced diet, a supplement can help boost your intake. More than half of Americans take one or more dietary supplements daily or occasionally. Supplements are available without a prescription and usually come in pill, powder, or liquid form. The most common supplements include vitamins, minerals and herbal products, also known as botanicals.
Fat-soluble vitamins need body fat to be absorbed and used by our organs. Vitamin A, vitamin E and carotenoids are fat-soluble vitamins. Because these vitamins rely on fats for use, we must eat a diet full of healthy fats. A lack of healthy fats in the diet can cause fat-soluble vitamin deficiencies and lead to disease and malnutrition, according to nutritionist Amanda Henham of Vaga Nutrition. They can also become toxic, as they are stored in adipose tissue.
The other class of vitamins, water-soluble vitamins, cannot be stored in our tissues like fat-soluble vitamins. They are found in food and, once our body has used them, they excrete the excess in the urine. Because our bodies can't hold on to these vitamins, we need to ingest them, either from food or from supplements. Common water-soluble vitamins include folate, vitamin C and B vitamins. According to Henham, all people need these vitamins in their diets every day, and the needs increase in certain conditions such as immune disorders, poor kidney and liver health, chronic stress and the use of medications. We can get vitamin E from our diets as well as from supplements.
Foods with healthy fats such as nuts, seeds and vegetable oil are high in vitamin E. Green leafy vegetables and even fortified cereals are also good sources. While vitamin E is available as supplements, we must be careful to avoid high doses. If you have any type of bleeding disorder or take blood thinners, vitamin E supplements may cause more bleeding. Some research has even linked high doses of vitamin E to an increased risk of death from any cause.
Try to get this vitamin from your diet or from a multivitamin complex. Folate belongs to the vitamin B group and is crucial for everyone, not just pregnant women. Folic acid lowers the amount of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine levels are used to assess if we're at risk of heart disease, so the lower the better. Folic acid is also linked to the improvement of our cognitive abilities, psychiatric illnesses and cardiovascular health. Because folic acid is vital to fetal health, all women thinking about becoming pregnant should make sure they get enough folic acid every day. This is the time of year when many of us are consuming vitamin C to avoid that inevitable cold or flu.
While vitamin C may not prevent that cold, it can at least shorten it. It is also vital for the formation of collagen which keeps skin elastic and youthful looking. We also need collagen for our bones, cartilage, muscles and blood vessels. Like vitamin E, vitamin C also contains powerful antioxidants. Unlike other animals, humans cannot produce vitamin C so we must take it every day.
Oranges are excellent sources of vitamin C but so are other citrus fruits such as grapefruits and lemons. Peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, strawberries, kiwis and cantaloupe are also rich in vitamin C.To get the most out of vitamin C for your money enjoy your raw fruits and vegetables. Because this vitamin is soluble in water heating and cooking food can decrease the amount of vitamin the body can absorb. Enjoy a delicious fruit salad in the morning and then fresh peppers dipped in hummus as an afternoon snack. According to the Mayo Clinic mild vitamin B6 deficiency is common so make sure you're getting enough every day.
Vitamin B6 is found in cereals legumes such as beans or peanuts vegetables milk cheese eggs and meat. It is richer in fish beef liver offal potatoes and starchy vegetables. It is also included in vitamin B supplements. Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of these vital nutrients. Vitamin A can be found in orange-colored vegetables such as sweet potatoes and carrots.
Henham recommends eating healthy fats such as avocados and nuts for vitamin E and green leafy vegetables for vitamin K.Most people don't need to take vitamin supplements and can get all the vitamins and minerals they need if they follow a healthy balanced diet. Some population groups are at greater risk of not getting enough vitamin D and are recommended to take a supplement every day of the year. Although supplements are popular there is limited evidence that they offer significant health benefits. In addition the calcium in supplements is not only found in pills or chewing pills but it is also added to products such as orange juice and to milk-like liquids such as almond milk to increase calcium intake. According to the Mayo Clinic some groups that should consider taking a supplement are those who are vegan lactose intolerant who take steroids have celiac disease or osteoporosis. If you're pregnant trying to have a baby or could become pregnant it's recommended that you take a 400 microgram folic acid supplement every day until you're 12 weeks pregnant. It just doesn't seem right that since supplement companies aren't regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) they can make health claims without proving their effectiveness or safety.
In fact a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that participants who took a daily calcium supplement were more likely to suffer a hip fracture. Many people choose to take supplements but taking them too much or taking them for too long could be harmful. Taking high amounts of vitamin B6 for a year or more has been associated with nerve damage that can affect body movements (symptoms usually go away after you stop taking them).If you decide to take supplements make sure you talk with your doctor first about what type would be best for you based on your individual needs lifestyle habits medical history age gender etc. Supplements should never replace food but rather complement it so make sure you're eating a balanced diet full of fruits vegetables whole grains lean proteins healthy fats etc.