Do You Really Need Supplements for Optimal Health?

Most people don't need to take vitamin supplements and can get all the vitamins and minerals they need if they eat a healthy, balanced diet. However, there are certain population groups who may benefit from taking supplements, such as vegans or vegetarians, who may have difficulty getting the vitamins found primarily in animal foods, such as vitamin B12. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a variety of health problems, while long-term use of vitamin D supplements has been shown to reduce mortality. Calcium and vitamin D work together to help strengthen bones, so eat enough calcium-rich foods throughout the day. Probiotics, also called “good bacteria”, are found in fermented foods such as yogurt, kombucha, miso and sauerkraut.

There is more and more research supporting the benefits of a positive balance of gut bacteria for overall health. Yogurt is a popular source of probiotics, but you might want to try a supplement if you don't get enough from your diet. Zinc is absolutely essential for good health, but consuming too much can have several side effects. The other class of vitamins, water-soluble vitamins, cannot be stored in our tissues like fat-soluble vitamins.

Common water-soluble vitamins include folate, vitamin C, and B vitamins. According to Henham, everyone needs these vitamins in their daily diet, and the needs increase in certain conditions, such as immune disorders, poor kidney and liver health, chronic stress and the use of medications. Ideally, you should get all your vitamin D from the sun. However, you must protect your skin, and when you use sunscreen, you block vitamins and harmful rays.

It's also harder to get enough sun exposure in winter, when the days are shorter. Most vitamin supplements contain 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance, so if you already eat a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables throughout the day, you'll be consuming much more than the National Institutes of Health recommends. Many people choose to take supplements, but taking too many or taking them for too long could be harmful. Children aged 6 months to 5 years should take vitamin supplements containing vitamins A, C and D every day. They also noted that, in previous studies, vitamin E and beta-carotene supplements appear to be harmful, especially at high doses. If you have a generally healthy diet, look for specific supplements that you don't get through whole foods.

We can also get carotenoids from supplements, liver and fish oils, as well as palm oil, algae and fungi. Blood tests can confirm if you have any real deficiencies that justify taking essential health supplements. Folic acid supplements should be taken before you become pregnant so start taking them before you stop using birth control or if there is a chance of becoming pregnant. 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. It's best to talk to your doctor before you run out to buy any supplements or start taking a multivitamin.

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