What Vitamins Should I Take?

April 10, 2015

What Vitamins Should I Take?
Vitamins and minerals help our bodies perform essential functions that keep us healthy and alive. Research also suggests many vitamins provide antioxidant benefits that may help prevent cancer, heart disease and other health problems. With this in mind, more and more people are choosing to take daily vitamin supplements to enhance their health. Unfortunately, this can lead to dangerous consequences that can actual harm their bodies.
Understanding the Differences between Vitamins
While every vitamin plays a key role in promoting healthy body function, they aren't all the same. Each one is classified as either water soluble (vitamins B and C) or fat soluble (vitamins A, D, E and K) based on how they react within the body. When we take too much of a water soluble vitamin, our bodies can easily clear the excess amounts when we urinate. On the other hand, because fat soluble vitamins are stored within the body, we can actually overdose on them, resulting in a condition called hypervitaminosis, which can result in serious consequences.
How Much Should You Take?
To help guide Americans, the USDA provides Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) that represent about how much of a certain vitamin a person needs to maintain health body function. It also provides Upper Tolerable Limits (ULs) for each vitamin, which represent the highest amount the average person can take without risk.
Before you start a supplementation regimen, consult this USDA's guidelines. You should also talk to your doctor to determine whether you will actually benefit from supplementation and whether you have any underlying conditions which could put you at a higher risk of intolerance.
Do You Really Need to Supplement?
Because they enjoy access to a wide range of natural and fortified foods, most Americans don't need additional supplementation. That said, a growing body of evidence has shown that people may enjoy health benefits when they take specific vitamins, such as Vitamin D. Pregnant women should also take folic acid supplements, while heavy drinkers may benefit from Vitamin B supplements.
For most healthy people, however, supplementation isn't necessary as long as they eat a healthy diet comprised of a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Likewise, because our bodies better absorb vitamins from foods, healthy diets are the best way to get an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals to ward of disease and promote good long-term health.

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