We all know how important it is to get the daily vitamins and nutrients our bodies need, whether it’s forcing broccoli down our throats or drinking orange juice everyday, we try to nourish our bodies as best we can. However, it’s important to know if you’re getting enough vitamins, if you’re taking them correctly, and the importance of taking the right amount.
Vitamins and supplements are generally beneficial, but not always needed. “For most people who are well-fed, a daily multivitamin is not necessary,” said Katie Funderburk, an extension specialist in Nutrition Education with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. “However, certain people who restrict food groups for medical or personal reasons would benefit from supplementing their diet with specific nutrients they may not be getting in their diet.”
Calcium and Vitamin D is 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,” said Funderburk.
As far as when to take them, vitamins are generally taken in the morning with breakfast, mainly because they are better absorbed with a meal. “For most vitamin and mineral supplements, the best time to take them is with a meal,” said Funderburk. “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 it iron,” said Funderburk. “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 FDA, vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium are the “nutrients of public health significance” for most Americans. “This just means that according to the most current data, most of the U.S. population is consuming inadequate amounts of those nutrients,” said Funderburk.
Although those nutrients are what most Americans are lacking, it is still important to know what exactly your body needs. The biggest mistake people make is over doing it. “It is better to have a consultation with a registered dietitian nutritionist if you feel you are not meeting your nutrient needs,” said Funderburk. 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/minerals,” said Funderburk. 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.
Photo credit for top picture: uhaweb.hartford