Vitamins are one of the pillars of a healthy living. Most people get them by eating a balanced diet, but there are lots of people that must take supplemental vitamins for health problems, because they eat a vegetarian diet, or if they are pregnant. Here are some key facts you need to know before buying over-the-counter multivitamins.
A body needs vitamins to conduct many biological processes including digestion, nerve function, and growth. American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) note that there are 13 essential vitamins that we need in order to survive and they include: vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, and folate).
These vitamins can be further divided into two categories:
-water-soluble vitamins are the ones that our body easily absorbs, and don’t store in large quantities. The kidneys take care of removing vitamins that are not needed.
-fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed with the help of bile acids and stored for later usage.
As a general rule, people should meet most of their vitamin intakes through eating foods, not vitamin supplements. As the Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) noted, a healthy diet and regular physical activity are the best ways to be healthy. At the same time, vitamin supplements are welcomed when they fill a certain nutritional gap.
Many people take too many calories, but not enough vitamins. And some of the nutrients we miss the most are the following: -calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, and vitamins A (as carotenoids), C, and E (for adults)
-calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, and vitamin E (for children and adolescents)
-vitamin B-12, iron, folic acid, and vitamins E and D (for specific population groups)
While each person is specific, there are some rules that everyone should follow in order to get enough vitamins:
-consume a rich variety of foods and drinks from different basic groups. At the same time, avoid foods rich with saturated and trans fats, salt, and added sugars
-meet recommended nutrients intake within energy needs as FDA recommends
-consume vitamin B-12 if you are over age 50
-eat iron-rich plants foods if you are a woman of childbearing age who may become pregnant
-consume extra vitamin D if you are an older adult, are exposed to sunlight, or have a dark skin
As much as lack of vitamins can cause serious troubles, consuming too much of them can have an equally negative effect.
If you consume too much of vitamin A, you could experience the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, blurred vision, clumsiness, birth defects, liver problems, possible risk of osteoporosis. Symptoms might be even worse if you drink high amounts of alcohol or have liver problems.
At the same time, consuming too much of vitamin D can cause nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, constipation, weakness, weight loss, confusion, heart rhythm problems, deposits of calcium and phosphate in soft tissues, FDA warns.
Here are also warning signs when you take too much of other vitamins including:
B-3: flushing, redness of the skin, upset stomach.
B-6: Nerve damage to the limbs, which may cause numbness, trouble walking, and pain.
C: Upset stomach, kidney stones, increased iron absorption.
Folic Acid: High levels may, especially in older adults, hide signs of B-12 deficiency, a condition that can cause nerve damage
As always, the best recommendation is to eat in a healthy way with sufficient amounts of fruits, vegetables, and other healthy food. Avoid high caloric food, sugar-rich products, and snacks rich in salt. Exercise regularly and you’ll prevent many health problems that you could otherwise suffer from.
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