Do Vitamins and Supplements Really Work?

do vitamins work

Well, this question must have come in your mind many times, that do vitamins really work or is it just a placebo. The short answer is yes, they do work. Try as we might, most of us just can’t or don’t eat a good, nutritious diet in their meals every day. Some of us have health issues that don’t let us absorb the right vitamins from our food.

We need the help of vitamins and supplements to fulfill our recommended daily requirements. Each vitamin has to be taken in different strengths and quantities. Like Vitamin E, is most beneficial in large doses, doses far greater (though very safe) than the amounts you could ever get only from your food.

Supplements are a safe and inexpensive way to make sure you’re getting all the vitamins, which may be missing from your daily diet. If we are missing any of the main vitamins or supplements from our daily meals then we can become deficient in some of the vitamins. Being deficient in any important vitamin can have very bad and negative consequences on our bodies and health.

Taking supplements can improve your health and get rid of your vitamin deficiencies.

How To Choose The Right Vitamin?

When you go to any health store or pharmacy you will see piles and piles of beautiful attractive bottles of vitamins and nutritional supplements with great marketing slogans. You will wonder what that stuff is and do you really need it.

How will you choose from the huge stack and find out which one is the best for you? To decide wisely which ones to choose, you need to understand what each vitamin does and why you need themSome simple blood tests can easily tell you whether you are deficient in any vitamin or not. Then either you can get it from food or take that vitamin in the form of a supplement.  You need to understand how the vitamins and minerals in your food affect you and how everything else in your food affects you as well.

You need to find out which of those other supplements are valuable to your health and which aren’t.

Although all those bottles on the shelves may seem confusing and a little scary, they’re really not.

Once you understand the easy basics of vitamins and minerals, you’ll be able to pick the supplements that will help your health.

Vitamins: Why They’Re Vital

vitamin is an organic chemical compound our bodies require in very small amounts for normal growth, metabolism and health. Vitamins are an essential part of our bodies which we need to live a healthy life.

We get our daily dose of vitamins from food or from supplements—you can’t make them in your body.

There are many types of vitamins and we need every single one of them, without any exceptions. Vitamins can not be considered as a food or a substitute for food. They have no calories. Our bodies need vitamins, especially the B vitamins, to convert food to energy.

Types Of Vitamins

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in our bodies, mostly in the form of fatty tissues and some of them are also deposited in our liver. Vitamins

A, E, D and K are some of the fat-soluble types. They dissolve in fat but not water. You have to be careful in the consumption of these vitamins as getting too much can cause an excess amount in your body and cause problems.

Water-Soluble Vitamins

These types of vitamins are not stored in our bodies for very long. That’s because they are easily dissolved in water. Any excess of these is carried out of your body through urine. Vitamin B and C are some of the water-soluble ones. Because these vitamins are not stored in our bodies for long, you need to take them every day to maintain your recommended requirement.

Overdose and excess intake of these types of vitamins are very rare unless you take massive doses. The extra just washes out without doing any harm.

How Much Do We Need Every day?

According to the doctors and scientists at the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, to meet our basic needs for each vitamin, assuming you’re an average healthy adult man or woman, we can follow the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) chart.

Check out the chart to see the RDAs for vitamins. These are the minimum amounts you should be getting every day, preferably from your food (and from vitamin pills if you need to).

Adult RDAs for Vitamins
     
Vitamin RDA for Men RDA for Women
Fat-Soluble    
Vitamin A

 

1,000 RE or 5,000 IU

 

800 RE or 4,000 IU

 

Vitamin D 200 IU 200 IU
Vitamin E 10 mg 8 mg
Vitamin K 80 mcg 65 mcg
Water-Soluble    
Vitamin C 60 mg 60 mg
B Vitamins:    
Thiamin 1.5 mg 1.1 mg
Riboflavin 1.7 mg 1.3 mg
Niacin 19 mg 15 mg
Niacin 19 mg 15 mg
Pyridoxine 2.0 mg 1.6 mg
Folic acid 200 mcg 180 mcg
Cobalamin 2.0 mcg 2.0 mcg

If you were counting, you would have noticed that this chart has only listed 11 vitamins. Two B vitamins, biotin and pantothenic acid, are not listed here. That’s because even though you need to have them, they don’t have RDAs. Why not? Because you get these vitamins so easily from your food, even if you have incredibly bad eating habits, no one is ever really deficient in them. And if no one’s ever deficient, there’s no point in bothering to set an RDA.

The Measure Of Good Health

The one thing you may have noticed about the vitamin chart is the way in which the RDAs are mentioned in different measurement units like mg and mcg. Usually, the amounts of vitamins (and minerals and other supplements) are given using the metric system. Metric measurements are not always used. But when it comes to vitamins, minerals, and supplements, you have to understand the measurements:

One gram (g) equals to 1,000 milligrams (mg).  One gram is approximately equal to one-quarter of a teaspoon, or 0.035 of an ounce. There is about 4,000 mg in a teaspoon.

One milligram equals to 1,000 micrograms (mcg). A microgram is 1/1,000 of a milligram.

Beyond The Basics

Our daily Recommended Dietary Allowance(RDA) can be used as the bare minimum amount you need to get every day for a particular vitamin or mineral. That’s because the RDAs are only the amounts needed to prevent disease in ordinary healthy people. They are, in our opinion and the opinion of many other nutritionists, doctors, and researchers, the least you should get. Maybe in time, these RDAs will also be increased according to the change in environment.

In many cases, we believe the RDAs are far from the amount you need to reach optimal good health or to prevent many serious health problems, like heart disease.

As you’ll discover, there are many, many good reasons for taking more sometimes much more than the RDA. There are also sometimes many good reasons to stick to the RDA and not take any extra and we’ll cover those issues as well.

Minerals: Essential Part Of Health

A mineral is a natural inorganic chemical compound that your body must have for normal growth, metabolism and to make many enzymes and hormones. Like vitamins, you must get your minerals from your food.

We need minerals every day just like we need our vitamins. Trace Minerals are required in a small quantity by our bodies. We need trace minerals in very small doses, but still they are very important for our health.

Minerals

There are many minerals we need each day. Take a look at the chart to see the RDAs for the major minerals.

Adult RDAs for Minerals

Mineral RDA for adults
   
Calcium 1000 mg
Chloride 750 mg
Magnesium 350 mg
Phosphorus 700 mg
Potassium 2,000 mg
Sodium 500 mg

 

One of the minerals, Sulfur is missing from the above chart. That’s because we need over 100 mg of sulfur a day, which we can easily get from our foods. It’s very rare for someone to be deficient in Sulfur.

Trace Minerals

How many trace elements you need to get and in what amounts is open to a lot of discussions. We know for sure that you need very small amounts of boron, chromium, cobalt, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, selenium, silicon, tin, vanadium, and zinc.

What about the small amounts of other minerals, like aluminum and lithium, that are found in your body? We don’t really know why you have them or how much you need.

A lot of the trace minerals don’t have RDAs—we just don’t know enough to set any. Your need for boron, for example, was only discovered in the mid-1980s, and researchers are still trying to figure out what the RDA should be. Instead, some of these minerals have Safe and Adequate Intakes (SAIs).

These are best guesses as to how much you probably need. They’re often given as a fairly broad range. For eg, the Safe and Adequate Intake for chromium seems to be anywhere from 50 to 200 mcg.

Do We Really Need Them in Supplement Form?

A lot of vitamins and minerals are lost between the farm and reaching our plates. A lot of factors like exposure to heat, light, air and pollution affect the fruit and vegetables and many vitamins and minerals are lost in this process. Many others are lost during the cooking of our foods.

The average person can get the RDAs for vitamins and minerals simply by eating a reasonable diet containing plenty of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. Yeah, right. First of all, who’s that mythical average person? Not anyone we know. The Doctors and Researchers calculate the RDAs on the basis of considering you as an adult under age 60who’s in good health, has perfect digestion, isn’t overweight, leads a totally stress-free life, doesn’t have a chronic disease, and does not take regular medicine. The RDAs also assume that you really manage to eat a good diet every day.

Let’s Get Real Here

Even on a good day, you can’t always manage a completely healthful diet. No one has the time or energy to do all that grocery and cooking? On a normal day, most of us eat at least one meal away from home anyway due to our busy schedules. It’s very hard to eat maintain a healthy eating routine these days.

The fact is, most of us don’t try all that hard, and most of us don’t meet all the RDAs from our diet.

It is very hard to reach the RDA goal for vitamins and minerals.

You Could Just Try Harder To Eat Better Or Differently

For example, women in the ages of 25 to 50 are recommended to get 1000 mg of calcium daily in order to strengthen their bones. For consuming 1000 mg of calcium through food, you would need to drink at least 3 glasses of milk every day. That can be very difficult for some who may be allergic to milk or have lactose intolerance.

One of the biggest problems with the RDAs is that they assume you’re in good health and eat about 2,000 calories a day. What if you don’t eat that much? Many people over age 70, for example, only take in about 1,500 calories a day. And in our current society, that is very diet and style-conscious, many people are on a weight-reducing diet to stay in perfect body shape. That type of diet doesn’t provide good nutrition. There’s no way anyone can get the vitamins and minerals they need from their food.

We’d be the first to tell you that vitamin and mineral supplements aren’t a substitute for healthy eating. They’re not also a super shield against the effects of bad health habits, like smoking, drugs or not getting much exercise. But we know that you can’t always eat as you should and sometimes you need a vitamin or mineral supplement because you can’t reach your ideal RDA goal just from your food.

That’s why vitamin and mineral supplements are so important. Taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement is a sensible choice. It makes sure you get everything you need. You may also need extra of one or more vitamins or minerals, more than you could get from your diet. Here too supplements make sure you’re getting enough.

Generally speaking, vitamin and mineral supplements are safe even in large doses

More isn’t always better, though, and some supplements can be harmful in big doses. Use your common sense. Read what we have to say about the vitamins and minerals, talk it over with your doctor, and then decide which supplements are best for you.

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