These questions are all excellent, and are only a fraction of those that I hear on a regular basis. In this post I will try to answer questions in a generalized sense, and based on MY opinion unless otherwise noted. But PLEASE understand that there is a LOT to know about vitamins/minerals and specific questions should be saved for a qualified professional [talk with your doctor, dietitian, or nutritionist].
First off, here are some quick facts about Vitamins (source: www.fda.gov. A full PDF download is available!)
Your body uses vitamins for a variety of biological processes, including growth, digestion, and nerve function. There are 13 vitamins that the body absolutely needs: vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate). AAFP cites two categories of vitamins.
- Water-soluble vitamins are easily absorbed by the body, which doesn’t store large amounts. The kidneys remove those vitamins that are not needed.
- Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed into the body with the use of bile acids, which are fluids used to absorb fat. The body stores these for use as needed.
I know folks who are intolerant of dairy and take supplements for Calcium and Vitamin D. Others turn to leafy greens, nuts and legumes to get their share of Calcium. Some people take Iron supplements due to the fact that their diet is void of any meats. And still, there are others who find other whole, real foods high in Iron to eat instead. As you can see, there is no single prescription for which supplements to take. Depending on a person’s individual diet, their supplement requirements will vary; talking to a doctor or nutritionist about specific supplements is best.
For more guidance on this topic, I check with my go-to dietitian Ashley Bade, RD, LDN, CNSDat Modern Mom Nutrition. Ashley shared with me an article on the topic ofsupplementation and whether or not to take vitamins. Ashley believes in “trying to get nutrients from foods first- versus supplementing, but understand that it can be hard to work it all into some people’s days. I do tend to supplement Vitamin D often with my patients b/c many are obese and we all live above Atlanta which are two factors that can set you up for a D deficiency. I do think some people can benefit from Omega supplements as many people tend to not have a variety of good sources in the diet.”
Vitamins and minerals provide essential nutrients and every person should be aware of which they are receiving in their diet & which, perhaps, need to be supplemented. If you have specific questions about your nutrition, make a list and be sure to discuss it with your doctor at your next appointment!