Since their introduction to the over-the-counter consumer market, supplements have been widely scrutinized. With such contrasting opinions to their actual effect on overall health, it is necessary to take a closer look into specifics if you want to determine which vitamins are the most useful when it comes to your daily nutrition.
A supplement is an optional additive to your regular diet. It works like medicine in that it is meant to prevent illness and disease through its regular consumption. It is usually taken orally in the form of a pill or a chewable tablet, but powders are also available to stir into a beverage for drinking. Supplements have become popular since Congress passed the Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act of 1994. Since then, it is estimated that over 29,000 supplements are available for purchase, with an average of 1,000 new options being introduced annually. Additionally, a supplement manufacturer makes it possible for many great new combinations to reach the market at an affordable consumer level. With so many options, you need to narrow your choices down to the vitamins that will best complement your diet.
A dietary supplement is no match for a well-balanced diet full of greens and whole unprocessed foods. It is, however, intended to fill in the nutritional gaps your body may be experiencing over the course of time. For example, if you are a vegetarian, it is likely that you need an iron supplement to replace what your body doesn’t naturally receive from meat. There is nothing wrong with needing to take vitamins. After all, they are meant to make you healthier and happier! It is important, however, to know what each supplement is intended for so that you don’t ingest more than you need.
Harvard Health made a list of the use and efficacy of the most popular dietary supplements. Here is what they found:
Vitamin D: Known as the “sunshine vitamin,” this vitamin is mostly found in oily fish and fortified dairy products. Regularly taking Vitamin D with a meal that contains a good amount of fat can help build healthy bones and reduce the risk of neuromuscular problems.
Calcium: Widely considered to be the key to bone health, calcium supplements should actually be taken with caution. Their effects on bone health are coupled with potential risk for heart disease when taken too much. Best to try to get your calcium from dairy products or leafy greens and use this supplement as a backup plan.
Antioxidants: It is recommended not to take supplements for Vitamins E, A, and C. These have been linked to risk of prostate and lung cancer too much to be safe.
Vitamin B: B12 is present only in animal protein. So, if your diet consists of little to no meat, you could consider taking a B12 supplement. It is also added to fortified grain products as an alternative.
Multivitamins: The outlook for multivitamins is inconclusive. Multivitamins can seem like a great, cheap, and all-in-one option for the new supplement user, but may be providing your body with vitamins it already has enough of. Although they have not been proven harmful, they have not been proven helpful, either. With no way of knowing what kinds of side effects could occur, in the question of multivitamins, it seems as though it may be your best option to consume a well-balanced diet. Supplements should be taken specifically for your health needs, not in one generic batch.
It seems that the most useful vitamins come in singles. Narrowing down your health requirements to a few nutritional additives could round out a balanced diet to promote your overall health. Then again, a vitamin is no substitute for a good diet. And not everyone needs supplements, but that doesn’t mean their usefulness has run its course. Talk to your doctor about which supplements might be right for you.