With so many different vitamins and mineral supplements on the market, you may wonder whether or not you should take a vitamin pill. Eating a well-balanced diet will usually provide sufficient nutrition, but there are certain people who should take supplements regardless of diet to ensure healthiness. Nursing and pregnant women, dieters, those preparing for or recovering from surgery, women taking contraceptive pills, those who smoke or drink, those who take prescription medications and those with chronic illnesses (such as cancer, anemia or jaundice).
If you decide to take vitamins, follow these guidelines for choosing the right one:
Taking separate, single vitamins can be expensive, and potentially dangerous. Multivitamins are cheaper and safer, as the combination of minerals is meant to work together safely and effectively. People require different amounts of different vitamins, and most multivitamins contain a balanced amount in one convenient pill. Choose a supplement that provides one hundred percent of the recommended daily allowance of about ten different vitamins.
If a little is good, more must be better, right? Not necessarily with vitamins. Some vitamins are water-soluble, which means they leave the body fairly quickly with regular elimination. Other vitamins are fat-soluble, which means the substance is stored in the fat of body and can reach toxic levels if too much is taken at once. Fat-soluble vitamins include A, D, E and K. Be particularly careful not to overdose on vitamins A and D.
Also be sure to take vitamins on a full stomach to ensure full absorption. The benefits of vitamins can be lost within the first three or four hours if food is not eaten with or after taking a supplement; it dissolves and is eliminated in your urine.
Some of the most important vitamins and their benefits include:
Vitamin A promotes healthy vision, skin and protects against infection; found in liver, eggs, butter cheese, yellow, orange and dark green vegetables.
B1 (thiamin) promotes digestion and a healthy nervous system; found in most meats, eggs, whole grains, potatoes and broccoli.
B2 (riboflavin) enables the body to utilize oxygen, promotes healthy skin and eyes; found in diary products, meat, eggs, yogurt, whole grains and peanuts.
Biotin promotes fatty acid formation, healthy skin, nails and hair; found in dark green vegetables, egg yolks, liver and kidneys.
C (ascorbic acid) helps the body to heal itself and to resist infection; found in citrus fruit, tomatoes and tomato products, and many vegetables.
D promotes the use and absorption of calcium, which builds strong bones and teeth; mainly comes from sunlight, but can also be found in oily fish, such as salmon, tuna, and sardines, eggs yolks, most dairy products.
E promotes reproduction and lactation and protects against degenerative diseases, such as cancer and heart disease; found in plant oils, wheat germ, whole grains and leafy green vegetables.