Vitamins, supplements provide what body needs

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Are You Getting All Your Vitamins?

Whether it’s eating broccoli or drinking orange juice every day, people try to nourish their bodies as best they can. However, it is important to know if you are getting enough vitamins and if you’re taking them correctly.

Vitamins and supplements are generally beneficial, but not always needed.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

For most people who are well-fed, a daily multivitamin is not necessary. However, certain people who restrict food groups for medical or personal reasons would benefit from supplementing their diet with specific nutrients.

Calcium and vitamin D are recommended for those who avoid dairy or B12 and iron for those who avoid meat or are vegetarian.

It is still recommended for pregnant women to take a prenatal vitamin to help mother’s meet nutritional needs for things like iron, folic acid and vitamin D. As far as when to take them, vitamins are generally taken in the morning with breakfast.

For most vitamin and mineral supplements, the best time to take them is with a meal. Food usually helps with the absorption of nutrients from the supplement.

As is always the case, there are exceptions.

Always read the label on any supplement to see whether or not it should be taken with food. Some vitamins and minerals enhance absorption when taken together, such as vitamin D with calcium, or vitamin C with iron. Others can actually interfere with each other’s absorption, and are best taken separately if both are needed, such as calcium and iron.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium are the “nutrients of public health significance” for most Americans.

This just means that according to the current data, most of the U.S. population is consuming inadequate amounts of those nutrients.

Although those nutrients are what most Americans are lacking, it is still important to know exactly what your body needs. The biggest mistake people make is over doing it.

It is better to have a consultation with a registered dietitian or nutritionist if you feel you are not meeting your nutrient needs. A professional can help you analyze your diet and pinpoint specific nutrients that may be worth supplementing.

Vitamins and supplements are meant to help your body get nutrients, but not necessarily take the place of eating real food. Real food has many other benefits and nutrients aside from vitamins and minerals. But some people have dietary restrictions that make it hard for them to meet certain nutrient needs.

The next time you take your vitamins, make sure you’re taking the correct ones, the right amount and with a meal. Keep forcing those veggies down though, real food is still the best way to go. Source: Katie Funderburk, a Nutrition Education Specialist, with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.