Remember those colorful, chewy and sometimes gummy Flintstones vitamins you used to take as a kid? Growing up it was important to include vitamins in your diet but as we got older the notion of consuming 1 or more vitamins a day fell by the waist side. The idea seemed a bit more orthopedic than necessary and most of us stopped taking our vitamins the day our parents stopped administering them. With the resurgence of “balanced health” hitting the mainstream it is only natural to think back to those candy-colored vitamins of our youth and wonder do we really need them now? Studies have shown that for optimal health we need to get ALL of the essential nutrients, minerals, and vitamins our bodies require. The most ideal way to do this is through whole food consumption. Creating a balanced diet that includes lots of unprocessed foods and a good amount of fruits and veggies will ensure that you get most if not all of the nutrients your body needs. However, for many of us, that a balanced diet doesn’t exist, so the addition of daily vitamins and supplements can be beneficial.
A good place to start before incorporating vitamins and supplements into your diet is at your Drs office. It can be difficult to know which vitamins your diet may be missing and a conversation with your Dr can help. It’s also a good idea to discuss just how much of each vitamin you should take. Along with their benefits, many vitamins can interfere with medications causing them to work improperly. With your doctor’s guidance you’ll have a bit more insight to what you need and will not be aimlessly wandering the supplement aisles of Target.
Vitamins and supplements can help fill in the gaps when our diets are falling short and if you have to go in blind an all-around multi-vitamin can be valuable. Even with a balanced diet, you may still have some deficiencies. Vitamin B-6, vitamin C, vitamin D, and iron are most commonly lacking in diets and are therefore what you will likely find in most multi-vitamins. Like any supplement, a multi-vitamin isn’t a magical-health-energy boosting pill. They are designed to support your health so if you are falling short in the diet department you should probably still make some adjustments. Multi-vitamins are good for filling in but they can’t take the place of good whole foods.
As with everything else research is key when it comes to vitamins and supplements. Take the time to read up about the different types of vitamins and what they can offer. Get informed about how well they play with your current prescriptions or other supplements you may be taking. Vitamins and other dietary supplements are regulated by the FDA but as foods, not drugs. This means that labels only have to list the ingredients and not the side effects or claims to cure or prevent disease. The bottom line is you should do your homework before starting a full-blown vitamin routine, and right now is the perfect time to get informed so that you can begin the new year in good new health.
If you’re starting your homework now, start with this throwback video: