Vitamins are all around us. On pharmacy shelves, in grocery store aisles, in powdered and pill form – they’re a booming industry. But do vitamins actually offer health benefits or is all so much snake oil? Read on to learn more about the great vitamin debate!
Does everyone need a vitamin to have a perfectly healthy day? In a word, no. As long as you are in good health and eat a fairly balanced diet, you will likely absorb enough essential vitamins from foods. A balanced diet would include items like fruit of all colors; dark greens; leafy vegetables; skim milk; 100 percent whole grains and lean proteins like skinless chicken.
But there are exceptions – people who are on a restricted diet, such as vegetarians or vegans’ those following a strict weight-loss plan and those with certain medical conditions, such as celiac disease, may benefit from multivitamins. And if you’re inside more often than not, you may be low in a key nutrient. The UV rays of the sun provide us with vitamin D, but we are indoors so much that vitamin D deficiency is not unusual today. It’s important, because new research shows that vitamin D may contribute to everything from muscle function to bone production.
If you have symptoms of vitamin D deficiency, such as fatigue or muscle aches, or if you fall into any of the other categories above, ask your physician if you should start taking vitamins or modify your diet. Vitamin D is found in some fish, such as tuna, salmon, and mackerel, and fortified products, such as milk.
Are there any risks associated with taking vitamins? It’s rare, but there is a chance that the body can store some vitamins for a long period of time, eventually causing an overdose. To be safe, follow the dosages that your physician recommends. A name-brand multivitamin from a known manufacturer probably won’t hurt most people, although medical experts are still debating how much it helps. Just remember to talk with your physicians before diving into the vitamin pool.
Is your vitamin really being absorbed by your body? Try this at-home test to see. Heat a half-cup of vinegar to 98.6 degrees, the temperature of your body. Place a vitamin in the cup and stir the vinegar – being careful not to hit the pill – continuously for 30 to 45 minutes. Try to maintain the temperature of the vinegar, moving it on and off the heat if necessary. If the vitamin hasn’t dissolved within 45 minutes, there’s a chance it’s not dissolving in your stomach, passing through your body primarily unused.