In this article, we outline what vitamins and supplements are and why you might want to take them.
Maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise is key to a happy and strong body. However, that might not be possible, or enough, which is where vitamins and supplements come in.
Many people find that taking vitamins and supplements every day helps them get all the nutrients into their body. Whether it be you’re concerned about not getting enough Vitamin D, your heart health, or not having a balanced diet, you might be wondering if any of them could boost your overall health.
In this article, we are going to be outlining what vitamins and supplements are, why you might want to take them and popular vitamins and supplements you can take.
Vitamin and Supplements – what are they?
You might have heard the word vitamins and supplements flying around on various adverts and health sites, but it is important that you understand what they are and why you need them.
So, what are they? Well, they are organic compounds of essential nutrients that your body needs to maintain a good standard of health.
Vitamins can be found naturally in food, especially fruit and vegetables and also sunlight.
Below is a non-exhaustive list of different types of vitamin. To find out more about all different types, you can visit the NHS website.
Dietary supplements are vitamins and minerals that you can consume. The idea of a supplement is that it may need to be taken by people who do not get the nutrients they need through their food.
You can find supplements for all sort of vitamins and minerals either sold separately or in a multivitamin.
Other people might be using them as preventive medicine to stop them from developing certain health issues.
Who should take vitamins and supplements?
Taking a daily supplement might be the right choice for you. The best way to find out who needs to take supplements is to ask your doctor or chemist.
It is a wise idea to consult a medical professional before beginning to take certain supplements, as many people take other daily medication that a vitamin could cause disruption.
There is no black and white version as to who should take supplements, it totally depends on various other factors such as:
- Pre-existing health conditions
- Health history
Why might I want to take vitamins and supplements?
There are many reasons why people might want to begin taking certain supplements or vitamins. You might want to take vitamins or supplements because you think you’re deficient in a certain area.
For example, you might want to start taking Vitamin D because you live in a colder climate that does not get much sun exposure. Vitamin D is difficult to supplement through diet, so a Vitamin D dietary supplement is the best choice.
Other people might want to take them as a preventive medicine to help them fight against diseases that they’re predisposed to, such as heart disease.
Often, pregnant women take supplements during their pregnancy to make sure that both they and their baby are getting the required nutrients for sustaining good health.
Furthermore, if you follow a vegan, vegetarian or lactose-free diet, you might be lacking in various nutrients that meat and dairy can supply. Therefore, it might be beneficial to your health if you embark on taking dietary supplements.
Why you should always consult a doctor or pharmacist before taking any kind of supplement
You may notice that throughout this article, we reiterate the need to consult a medical professional before deciding to take any type of dietary supplements.
If you suspect that you are deficient in a particular vitamin, it is imperative that you check with either your doctor or a pharmacist first. This is because certain people might already take medication that is not suitable for mixing vitamins.
Also, it is important to get medically assessed to see what you are lacking rather than to guess yourself. It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health. Do not take the risk that you are feeding your body with the wrong vitamin.
Top 8 Most Popular Types of Vitamin and Supplements
There are so many dietary supplements these days, it is hard to decipher the good from the bad. With many products on the market, you only want to put creme de la creme into your system.
Before looking at specific brands, it is a good idea to know what the most popular supplements are. If you suspect that you have some sort of deficiency, you might find the supplement answer on this list.
Please note that this list is meant to give ideas and not to be used as a prescription. Please always consult a doctor or pharmacist before deciding to take any supplement to work out if it is the right idea for you.
Lo and behold, here is our list of the top 10 most popular supplements you can take in no particular order…
- Vitamin D
- Folic Acid Supplement
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B12
- Iron Supplements
- Fish Oil
1) Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a super important one. You get the majority of Vitamin D from sunlight, but it can also be found in some foods, such as meat and dairy.
To get an adequate amount of Vitamin D, you need to get a good amount of exercise, spend a sufficient amount of time in the sun and have a healthy diet.
Vitamin D is great for maintaining healthy bones and muscles.
Vitamin D might be the right choice for you if you live in a colder climate that does not get enough sun. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and decreased outdoor activity, a Vitamin D supplement might be a good idea to ensure that you are giving your body all the nutrients it needs.
2) Folic Acid Supplement
Folic acid is something that was made to replicate the vitamin called folate that we have in our system. Folate is a B Vitamin and is often found in foods such as green vegetables and certain types of beans.
You can get the required amount of folate through your diet, but you might suspect that you need to take a folic acid supplement.
Folate or folic acid is needed to help produce healthy red blood cells in your body. A folic acid supplement might be a good idea for pregnant women, as it helps reduce the risk of birth defects.
3) Vitamin C
Luckily, Vitamin C is often found in most fruit and vegetables, therefore, you can maintain good levels of Vitamin C through a healthy dietary regime.
However, if you find it hard to maintain a balanced diet, you may need a supplement. Vitamin C is important for the overall wellbeing of your body, especially with skin and bones.
A multivitamin could be a really good idea for people that lack sufficient nutrients in their diet. You usually would take a multivitamin every day (although you always need to check the packaging) and could be a good idea for young children who might be fussy eaters.
A great multivitamin should contain all the necessary vitamins that are required to sustain your health. Having a mixture of different types of vitamins and minerals means that you are covering all bases.
These might not be the best replacement if you are severely lacking a certain type of vitamin, but maybe a wise idea if your diet is not particularly varied.
5) Vitamin B12
A healthy amount of Vitamin B12 can be sustained through healthy food. It is often found in dairy, fish and meat, which means that if you are vegan or vegetarian, you might want to consider dietary supplements for B12.
Vitamin B12 helps maintain a healthy immune system and producing adequate red blood cells. It is super important that you get a sufficient amount of this vitamin.
Iron is super important within your system and is needed for producing red blood cells. If you lack iron, it could lead to anaemia, which can be serious if not treated.
Iron is usually found in food such as red meat, beans and nuts. Iron supplements could be a wise idea if you are a vegetarian or vegan and are lacking these vital nutrients within your diet.
However, if you have too much iron in your system, this can have severe side effects on your body. Therefore, it is always wise to consult your doctor when considering taking iron supplements.
Calcium can be found in fish, dairy and soya. It is super important that you eat a variety of food to ensure you’re getting enough calcium. It is essential for bone health and making sure all the muscles work properly.
If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you might be calcium deficient as your diet restricts the amount of calcium-rich food you can eat.
8) Fish oil
Fish oil is obviously found in fish and contains essential fatty acids. A type of fish oil supplement might be a good idea if you do not eat much fish. Fatty acids such as Omega 3, which can only be found in fish, is great for sustaining a healthy system.
The final verdict on all the above supplements is that they might be beneficial if you are not gaining the required vitamins and minerals from your food.
Your health is not something to take lightly and some people may need a nutritional boost that supplements can give you.
Whatever you are concerned about, whether it be maintaining a healthy immune system, getting enough fatty acids, or heart health, it might be worth speaking to your doctor about taking a supplement.
The NHS website has detailed webpages about all supplements, from Vitamin D to folic acid. It is definitely worth a read if you are considering taking a supplement.
Herbs and Botanicals
When it comes to herbs, botanicals and other dietary supplements, you may be aware of how beneficial they can be to your everyday health. However, some of these benefits have not been fully studied, so do not expect them to fix everything – This is especially true if you are undergoing cancer treatment.
In terms of general usage, however, herbs and botanicals can aid in a range of different everyday health problems.
One of the most popular and commonly used botanicals is perhaps garlic. Used in cuisine around the world, garlic can potentially improve your blood pressure and enhance your immune system.
As garlic is extremely easy to add to a wide range of different dishes and diets, it is one of the finest botanicals to supplement. Throw it into curries or sprinkle some on your pasta, and you are sure to notice the benefits right away. Just make sure to brush your teeth after as garlic is known for its strong smell.
Another beneficial botanical, and one that is a little less known is Echinacea. Most commonly used in Native American healing and therapy, Echinacea is fast becoming an extremely popular health botanical.
Perhaps one of its most common uses is to remedy the common cold that we all suffer during the colder seasons. Studies have shown that regular use of echinacea can lower the severity of a common cold by up to 50% – as well as reducing its length.
Herbs are also no slouch in the health department, with a wide variety to choose from each with their own unique health benefits. Easily the most popular herb of choice today is Turmeric. Due to its versatility, turmeric can be used in a whole range of different things. From curries to lattes, if a little spice is not out of place, turmeric can be used. But what exactly are its health benefits?
Firstly, as with all herbs and botanicals, turmeric will not cure everything. However, it is known for being an extremely effective inflammation combatant. Its pain dampening qualities or one of the main reason it is commonly supplemented by sufferers of lumbago and other aches and pains. As with garlic, turmeric is also known for its ability to strengthen your immune system so consider adding some to your cooking asap!
Those of you looking for a way to add a range of vitamins to your diet with herbs will be delighted to know Rosemary is packed full of them. This pleasant-tasting herb contains a mixture of Vitamin A, B6 and C which is great for such a small plant.
Not quite as universal as some other herbs however due to its strong taste, rosemary can still be added to your diet fairly easily. Rosemary is also fairly high in fibre so be sure to add it to your diet if that’s what you’re lacking.
There are many more fantastic herbs and botanicals available, so be sure to check which ones can help your unique needs!
Do you still have questions? Luckily we have answers! Take a peek at our FAQs to find some more information about supplements for vitamins and minerals.
How many vitamins and minerals should I take?
This will depend on the type of vitamins and minerals you are taking. This should be written on the packaging of your supplement and if unsure, consult a medical professional.
On the NHS website, you can find a handy guide to how much of each vitamin is recommended for adults and children.
How often should I take my supplements?
Similar to the above question, this will also depend on which vitamin you take. Again, the frequency of which you should consume this vitamin should be clearly stated on the packaging.
If you are unsure how often you are meant to take your supplements, it is always best to consult a doctor or pharmacist.
Can taking vitamins every day be harmful?
There are definitely strengths in taking a vitamin every day, but your body might not actually need it. The point of these supplements is that they are there to provide the adequate nutrients that you aren’t getting from food.
If your system has too much of one particular nutrient, this can be harmful. However, as always we advise that you speak to a medical professional before deciding to take a particular supplement.
What is the most popular vitamin?
However, you might not necessarily need the most popular vitamin. If you think you have, for example, a Vitamin D deficiency, it is worth speaking to your doctor about whether it is worth taking a daily vitamin.
How often do vitamins take to work?
The speed that supplements take to make a positive difference to your body will differ from person to person. It can be affected by factors such as age, weight, diet and so on.
However, supplements are cumulative, meaning that the more you take them, the better and more long-lasting impact they will have on your health.
If you are unsure about whether a supplement is working for you, it is best to consult a doctor.
This article was written with guidance from the NHS website.