With so many different vitamin and mineral supplements on the market today, you've probably wondered at some point whether or not you actually need to take a vitamin tablet.
With so many bottled vitamins and supplements on the market, it's easy to be confused about whether or not you need them. Images courtesy of the Stock Exchange
Assuming you have a balanced diet, you probably shouldn't need vitamin supplements, but there are some people who do need them. Dieters, pregnant or nursing women, women who are using contraceptive pills, people who drink or smoke heavily, people who are about to undergo surgery, those who take regular medications or those with chronic illness are all likely to need supplements.
If you decide, or if you’re instructed by a qualified healthcare professional to take vitamin supplements, follow these guidelines when choosing one:
Choose a multivitamin. You’re better off choosing a multivitamin tablet than buying separate supplements; people typically require much less amounts of certain vitamins then others and multivitamin supplements have been balanced for you.
Watch the level. Some people think that if a little is good, a lot is better. Not necessarily with vitamins. Some of them are stored in your body fat and can build up toxicity levels in your body. Avoid going over the recommended daily allowance listed on the bottle. Be particularly careful not to get too much vitamin A or D.
Store them carefully. Keep the supplements in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight and particularly away from children. Bathroom cabinets can be a bad spot because the area is rather humid and the fridge (unless the supplement requires it) can be too cold. Try a high kitchen cupboard out of reach of little hands.
While vitamin supplements are necessary in many situations, often with a healthy diet, they can be redundant.
Research the quality As with everything, you'll find lower cost to expensive products on the market. And as with everything cost is not the only indicator of quality. Talk to your health practitioner or chemist about which are the best quality for you.
Unlike pharmaceuticals, supplement and vitamin companies aren't required to prove product safety or effectiveness before selling them on the market.
When you know which vitamin or supplement is right for you, you’ll find many of them come as pills, powders or liquids. The type of product you buy can affect the absorption rate into your body, as liquids are absorbed faster than tablets. Always ask your health care provider or the chemist if you are confused about the correct form of a particular dietary supplement.
Take them correctly. Take vitamins and supplements with a meal. If you don’t each much at breakfast, the vitamin will lose a large portion of its benefits within the first few hours and it’ll dissolve and pass through your body without benefit.
While nothing replaces a healthy and balanced diet, if vitamins or supplements are required, it’s always best to read the labels and take only as directed.