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Vitamins and Minerals – do we need them?

January 25, 2018

 

Oftentimes, good health and nutrition is accompanied in mainstream media with multivitamin supplements in the form of pills and injections. Such an obsession has boosted the pharmaceutical supplement market through the roof. Being educated about the need and use of supplements is necessary, as vitamin deficiency is a rarity in the Western world.

Taking an excess of vitamin or mineral supplements can put your body at risk. That said, isolated vitamins are far better and achieve a greater outcome on your health than a multivitamin. For example, in an individual with vitamin D deficiency, diagnosed with a simple blood test, a multivitamin will not provide enough vitamin D to restore the sufficiency. A physician or registered dietician will prescribe isolated vitamin D supplements, likely to be taken once a week. The same can be said for individuals with a calcium or potassium deficiency, or lack of fiber in their diets. Other vitamins, such as B vitamins, are taken up by the body efficiently through intramuscular injections or an IV-drip, and is not well absorbed by the gastrointestinal system. Magnesium supplements are taken very different from iron supplements, and vitamin D is taken very differently from vitamin B. Dosages, durations, and timings for each vary widely. Vitamin and mineral supplements need to be tailored to the needs of your body, if your body needs them.

It’s important to note that most of the vitamins and minerals we need are most likely ingested and used up by the body through our food – if you’re eating clean, that is. The body has been naturally adapted to absorb, ingest and process the vitamins it needs for proper functioning. For example, an excellent source of selenium are Brazilian nuts. Eating just two to three a day is above the required daily intake of the body. An excellent source of calcium comes from a single serving of milk, accompanied with fresh greens, a variety of nuts, tofu, cheese and other products. Rather than cramming everything into a multivitamin, educating oneself about whole foods and better eating, making sure to include all areas of the food groups, will supply the body with enough natural vitamins it needs to keep itself running.

Here are some tips to ensure you get the most out of your vitamin and mineral intake, if you must:

  1. Always check the expiration date of your vitamins. Suffice to say that expired vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements are virtually useless to your body.

  2. Preferably, get through with diagnoses and blood tests to pinpoint what you’re lacking and what you need. Hormones, vitamin levels, and a simple physical exam can reveal more than you think.

  3. Keep bottles in a cool, dry place, away from radiating heat. Some supplements, particularly oils, need to be refrigerated to keep them fresh.

  4. Always read, research and consult a physician if you have an underlying condition or multiple conditions which can contraindicate a supplement.

  5. Some vitamins can turn your urine an alarming color – this is perfectly natural, as the body is simply excreting the excess. This might be a good indication that perhaps what you’re taking isn’t all that necessary after all.

  6. No matter what, always read the labels, do your homework, and do not take above the recommended dosage – yes, even vitamins can have the power to hurt you!

  7. Almost all vitamins and minerals, from A to K, need to be taken with food for proper absorption and effective results, therefore set a reminder during mealtimes.

At some point in our health and based on circumstance, we may need supplements to boost our immunity, restore hormone balance, maintain joint and muscle integrity or combat depression. In such an instance, one should find the appropriate supplement for that specific need. For example, cod liver oil, vitamin D, Vitex and evening primrose oil is a great combination to help victims of polycystic ovarian syndrome, combined with exercise, relaxation and good nutrition. Another example is folic acid for certain pregnant women, iron supplements for anemics, various vitamins for vegans and vegetarians, and so on. It would be preposterous to take an assortment of supplements and multivitamins and hope to achieve gains and instant results in an irrelevant field of purpose. If you don’t need them, don’t take them, and spare your body the extra work to process and excrete them. You never know, they may do more harm than good.

 

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