Vitamins A, D, K, B12. Calcium, iron and magnesium. It can seem like alphabet soup!
No doubt about it, vitamins and minerals can be confusing. We hear from our patients that they are inundated with often conflicting health information from the media, Internet and friends. So what’s a girl to do?
Why do I need vitamins and minerals?
Working in concert with each other, vitamins and minerals are essential for our bodies to function properly. They have many roles to keep us healthy, from building strong bones and healing wounds to bolstering our immune system and converting food into energy. So, yes, we definitely need adequate amounts of these micronutrients.
Should I take a multivitamin?
A multivitamin can be a good way to make up for nutritional shortfalls. We’ve all seen the Food Pyramid and hopefully strive to get adequate servings of grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, meats and beans. But at times it’s hard to follow a healthy diet, and furthermore, our food supply today is less rich in vitamins and minerals than the varieties most of us ate decades ago. Many of us find that, even with a healthy diet, we are low in key nutrients. For instance, we all know to steer clear of processed foods and too much table salt, but these sources provide iodine, which helps the thyroid to regulate metabolism. As much as we applaud a healthy diet, it can sometimes leave us deficient on the vitamin front, so a multivitamin can be helpful.
For Jane Rubin, when her frustration over always feeling run down got too much to take, she committed to a healthier lifestyle. She eliminated red meat, lessened the amount of sugar she ate and exercised more, but she still didn’t feel 100 percent. The balance was still off. She explored ways to meets her own nutritional requirements, including a personalized multivitamin, and soon all was right in the world again.
Am I getting the micronutrients that I need?
We don’t have the same nutritional needs. We all have unique diets and lifestyles, and varying health histories. Those of us that live in climates with long, gloomy winters are likely to need more vitamin D (which is obtained mostly from the sun) than those who live with year round sunshine. Someone who does not eat red meat is likely to need more iron than someone who indulges in a burger every day. Recognizing the unique differences in people’s vitamin needs inspired us to create Vous Vitamin, a line of personalized multivitamins. By asking a series of targeted questions on Vousvitamin.com, we are able to determine people’s nutritional profile and provide a multivitamin formulation tailored to their individual needs.
What levels of nutrients are safe and useful?
There is a fine line between getting enough and getting too much. With a one-size-fits-all multivitamin, you may find they contain too much of certain harmful ingredients. For example, many are high vitamin A. Most Americans are not deficient in vitamin A, and taking vitamin A supplements has been linked to increased rates of cancer and osteoporosis. Likewise, many of these one-size-fits-all multivitamins contain excess fillers and additives.
It is so important to take the right vitamins at the right levels based on your own needs. Just as the doses and exact ingredients are important to consider, take note of the quality and purity of any supplements. And, as physicians, we strongly encourage you to talk with your own doctor about what is safe and useful for you. Getting the right vitamins can be a giant step towards achieving better health and feeling your best!
Editors Note: I was able to take the survey and get my own blend of vitamins as well. My blend was: Vitamins D, C, E, Folate, b-12, biotin, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium. Great for me to keep my energy levels up and more! It’s nice knowing what you actually could benefit from vs. just trying them all in hopes of positive change.
Authors: Arielle Levitan, MD, and Romy Block, MD
(Main photo source: Flickr Creative Commons – Steve Depolo)