Are we taking too many vitamins and supplements?

I feel like I’m bombarded with holistic approaches to supplement my diet as a means of treatment. Everyone wants a cure in a pill. Like the temptation to go around and around (and around just once more) in a revolving door, it can be tempting to add and add to your pile of pills. Here are a few vitamins that I recommend when you feel like you’re deficient. Otherwise, I feel like the cleanest eating is drinking water and trusting your diet to give you the rest.

 

Taking Vitamins: The Whens

Iron

  • Good for:
  • Why you might get enough: if you are not eating a lot of iron-rich meat, your levels could be low. Beans and spinach provide healthy portions, but runners and other high-impact performers have notoriously low levels due to the pounding nature in the activity
  • Take a supplement: with some vitamin C (maybe wash it down with orange juice). Do not try to combine iron and calcium supplements at the same time since they can interfere with each other and prevent absorption. Iron should be taken some time during the day and can be hard to stomach alone so lunch is probably best

Calcium

  • Good for: supporting bones, teeth and structure support. Calcium is also necessary for muscle contraction and brain function.
  • Why you might not get enough: a lot of people avoid dairy products or simply to not fulfill the entire three servings a day
  • Take a supplement: in the evening once you are through eating (try to avoid taking with iron). A calcium-potassium combination could help aid in a better nights sleep. Do not take right with a glass of milk; your body can only absorb a certain amount of calcium at a time (so trying to get 100% in one swallow will not work).

Vitamin D

  • Good for:
  • Why you might not get enough:
  • Take a supplement: either in your calcium supplement or at the same time as your calcium. Be careful not to take too much; you could be doing more harm than good. Sit in the sun for fifteen minutes if you’re worried about a pill

Vitamin C

  • Good for: protecting against immune deficiencies, skin wrinkling, cardiovascular disease and a laundry list that is constantly being added to. Vitamin C is not a cure-all but it is versatile and gets attention for helping stroke patients and diabetics with blood sugar problems.
  • Why you might not get enough: if you’ve been on a boat and have not seen produce in a while or generally don’t eat fresh fruits and vegetables (particularly citrus), you might not be at risk of scurvy.
  • Take a supplement: with other antioxidant supplements and/or with zinc. Take this vitamin some time in the first half of the day for energy. People often overload on this vitamin and think it will help their immunity when in high-risk areas (it won’t).

Vitamin E

  • Good for: prevention of memory loss and heart disease. This vitamin has the potential to lower your risk of many cancers.
  • Why you might not get enough: vitamin E is hard to find in food-sources as a whole vitamin. Avocados are one of the main providers, but outside of that, you may be coming up E-less
  • Take a supplement: right after you finish a hard workout (during the day) and not every day. Be sure to drink plenty of water with this fat-soluble vitamin

Magnesium

  • Good for:
  • Why you might not get enough:
  • Take a supplement:

 

Other things to take note of:

  • Caffeine Consumption: try to avoid taking a pill with tea, coffee, chocolate etc to ensure proper absorption. Caffeine can divert minerals and speed nutrients through your system, so wait at least ten or fifteen minutes before throwing back a pill.
  • Multis: I did not talk about multi-vitamins, but hightly recommend one. If anything, take one pill per day and make it a multi.
  • Prescription interaction: make sure you are aware of what pills can be taken with your Rx and what vitamins will be detrimental to full effects.

 

Caution: What’s in your pill?

Be careful of where you get your vitamins and what is in them. Since vitamins are often unregulated, sometimes they contain trace elements of things you do not want in your body. I only take something if it has been approved by US Pharmacopeia.

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