Is taking vitamin supplements necessary?
I often get asked from whether they should take vitamin supplements or not, whether they should buy more or add more supplements into their diet. And i am always wary of answering, because when it comes to supplements more isn’t always better. I.e sure 1 vitamin C tablet has its benefits but if you take 3 a day, all you are going to do is pee out the excess vitamin C. Of course with the water soluble vitamins, C and B, you pee the excess out (apart from b12 which gets stored in the body). And the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, K get stored in the body so its worse to have an over consumption of those. (Even if toxic level would require extreme doses).
Usually taking a multivitamin a day isn’t so dangerous and most people do it, and now a days most people seem to take magnesium and calcium tablets which I don’t see too much of a problem for even if isnt always necessary and that all you are really getting is a placebo effect and wasted money.
Vitamin supplements are necessary for some, but not for everyone. If you dont have a deficiency or on a low level for a vitamin or mineral, there really is no need to take a supplement. Your first choice however should always be food and to look at what you are eating. I’ve followed people online – on Youtube – who were eating a diet plan and mostly ate chicken, potatoes, rice, broccoli and so weren’t getting alot of vitamins or minerals into their diet due to lack of variety as well as not enough food. So they relied on tablets to make up for the lack of variation and energy into their diet – which of course works to some extent – but the first thing you should do is to change your diet. Eat more vegetables, more nutritionally dense food and not just take tablets and think everything is fine. Food should be the first way of getting all your vitamins and minerals, and then supplements are just that… supplements.
Also just adding into supplements isn’t always the best or just guessing that you have deficiencies. Sometimes you can tell that you have all the symptoms of a certain vitamin deficiency, but my recommendation is always to get blood tests done and not just guess. It might be that you have more deficiencies than one, or it might be that you dont lack any vitamin and all you need to do is sleep more and eat more vegetables, for example.
Balance is best and multivitamins usually have very high doses of vitamins and sometimes it can be too much, especially if you are mixing supplements. For example i know people who have taken 2 multivitamins, D vitamin, calcium, magnesium, extra B vitamins per day and then when i looked at the multivitamin package i saw that there was pretty much 100%+ of everything and the other supplements werent necessary.
So to sum it up, get blood tests done if you suspect a deficiency. Your diet should be the first thing you change before supplements.
Also remember that some supplements such as multivitamins or B12 supplements as well as vitamin A, D, E, K should be consumed with food (most often, but it varies). This is because 1) multivitamins can have very high doses and concentration and can cause some nausea/illness feelings if taken on an empty stomach and 2) the fat soluble vitamins are best absorbed with some form of fat. For example eat a few nuts or seeds or drink some milk(vegan or not vegan) at the same time.
And lastly… a link to a fact sheet about vitamins and minerals so you can do your own research. The fact sheet is from the USA so recommendations vary in each country, for example in the nordic countries the recommendation for vitamin D is different due to less sunlight during winter times.
Also note, in recovery and after having messed up eating habits (whether its starvation, binge/purge, binging etc) your vitamin,mineral and electrolyte levels can be off and can be low. And some people end up with digestion problems and they don’t absorb food as well as they used to, so in those cases supplements can help you, also if you havent or aren’t eating enough calories there is less chance that you are getting enough of the vitamins and minerals you need. But like mentioned above, eating enough and varied is the most important… dont just eat little food and take supplements and think its fine – the goal should be to get almost all the energy and nutrients you need from your diet and then just supplements as extra if necessary.
(Also note, if you are eating enough and varied on a vegan diet it is possible to get all the vitamins you need apart from b12, which all vegans need to take a supplement of. You also dont get any omega 3 from a vegan diet, however you can get EPA and DHA fatty acids from oils, nuts, seeds. But i have THIS post which has more information which can be useful if you are wondering about vitamins and minerals on a vegan diet.)
Just a little information post on this Thursday morning as it is something i have been thinking about and wanting to make a post about.