If you’re one of the millions of Americans that take vitamins frequently, you probably wonder if they’re effective. The answer is, some are and some aren’t. Vitamins vary by quality, including bioavailability—the body’s ability to absorb a nutrient. Multivitamins are the most popular form to take, but those vary widely, too. Many contain vitamins or minerals most people don’t need and the quality is inconsistent. Some multivitamins make it through the digestive process without even dissolving and exit whole in your waste. These are normally less expensive vitamins.
Sometimes taking vitamins is unsafe.
Vitamins are beneficial for many people, but for others, they can be dangerous to take. If you’re already taking a prescription drug, supplements can interact. It can increase the benefits to a dangerous level or diminish them, making them ineffective. Always check the label for ingredients. Some vitamins contain “natural substances” such as herbs, which can cause problems. Vitamin E, fish oil, and aspirin are all blood thinners. Taken together or with prescription blood thinners can be dangerous.
Take vitamins at an appropriate time.
If the first thing you do in the morning is to pop a multivitamin, it may be the reason you have an upset stomach. When you take vitamins on an empty stomach it causes the stomach to produce high amounts of stomach acid to break it down. That causes stomach problems if you haven’t eaten something to offset the rush of digestive juices. If you’re taking a fat-soluble vitamin, such as vitamins E, A, D, and K, take them after eating an avocado, nuts, or other food containing healthy fat for better absorption. Take iron with citrus juice for the best results.
Eating a healthy diet is better than taking supplements.
Some people require supplements. People with digestive issues, seniors who don’t absorb nutrients as well, pregnant women, or women of childbearing age may require them. People who live in the north should supplement with vitamin D in the fall, winter, and spring. Most people in Hawaii have adequate sunshine for their bodies to make their own throughout the year. There is one exception. People who are obese may need more vitamin D. There’s a link between obesity and vitamin D deficiency. It’s not known whether a D deficiency causes obesity or if it’s the other way around.
- Take B12 with a meal, but not with vitamin C. Vitamin C can interfere with the absorption of B12, so wait two hours after taking vitamin B12 before taking vitamin C.
- Smokers, former smokers, and pregnant women should avoid high doses of vitamin A. Smokers and ex-smokers increase the risk of lung cancer taking high doses. Pregnant women increase the risk of birth-defects when taking amounts over 10,000 IU daily.
- Vitamins aren’t well regulated. If you want a high-quality vitamin, look for one tested by an independent third party. Some stores and pharmacies make it easy by only carrying vitamins with a third-party test.
- Vitamin B9 is vital for pregnant women and women of birthing age. A deficit can cause birth defects. Folate and folic acid are both types of B9. If you need it, select folate. It’s easier for the body to use.
For more information, contact us today at Hawaii Fit Camp!