What Vitamins Should I Be Taking?
A common health question for many people is if they should be taking vitamins or not. And once you decide taking supplemental vitamins is beneficial for you, how do you know which ones to take? That gives way to numerous other questions like if you need a multivitamin or specific supplements. It can be rather confusing. Here is a look at the basic vitamins and minerals everyone needs.
What does RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) mean?
The RDA or Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamins and minerals means the average amount a person needs to take to avoid deficiencies. The recommended amounts for most vitamins and minerals vary between men and women. Each vitamin and mineral has a specific RDA. Some vitamins and minerals are needed in larger doses. These are measured in milligrams. The ones that the body needs smaller amounts of are measured in micrograms. Just for reference, there are 1,000 micrograms per milligram.
What vitamins and minerals does the body need?
The body needs a variety of vitamins and minerals to perform well. Most people can get an adequate amount of these by eating a well-balanced diet. However, not many people can stick to a well-rounded healthy diet, and even when they do, they may not get enough of some nutrients. Your body needs 13 essential vitamins and 16 essential minerals. Along with these essential vitamins and minerals, the body needs other nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients.
13 Essential Vitamins
These 13 essential vitamins are necessary for the cells in the body to grow, function, heal, and develop properly. A deficiency in any of these 13 essential vitamins could lead to various health issues.
- Vitamin A
- The B Vitamins (B6, B12, biotin, folate, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and thiamine)
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
16 Essential Minerals
16 minerals are needed along with the 13 essential vitamins. Macrominerals are needed in large amounts and trace minerals are needed in smaller amounts. The macrominerals include:
Trace minerals needed in small amounts include:
Most people are familiar with the basic vitamins the body needs. But nutrients like choline are often overlooked. Choline is now understood to play a major role in brain and nerve function. Eggs and meat contain substantial amounts of choline. Vegetarians and vegans should definitely consider including choline in their choice of supplements. Along with an adequate intake of vitamins and minerals other nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants like CoQ-10 play essential roles in the healthy function and immunity of cells.
Is vitamin deficiency real?
Taking supplemental vitamins can hold benefits for just about anyone. Even if you feel like your diet contains plenty of whole grains, protein sources, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables, poor sleep and lack of exercise can lead to health issues. Supplements can help fill in those unknown gaps. Many people are estimated to get inadequate amounts of Vitamin D and E from food sources. Some groups are at risk for having nutrient deficiencies including:
- The elderly. As the body ages, difficulty chewing or swallowing food can put the elderly at risk for deficiencies.
- Pregnant women. Women of childbearing age are encouraged to take supplemental folate, one of the B-vitamins. Prenatal vitamins help women maintain adequate amounts of iron, calcium, DHA, and vitamin D.
- Those with malabsorption issues. Any person who has a medical condition that inhibits the proper absorption of nutrients is at a higher risk of deficiencies.
- Some medications. Medications that help control blood pressure often deplete the stores of magnesium, calcium, and potassium in the body.
Which Vitamins and Minerals Should be in Supplements?
In general, the body needs a wide range of vitamins and minerals that can be obtained by consuming foods or multivitamins and supplements. Here are the vitamins you should be taking to ensure your body functions at its best.
- Vitamin A plays a role in the growth of healthy bone and blood cells. It’s also beneficial for healthy vision.
- B vitamins help convert food into energy for the body.
- Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is essential for immune system function.
- Vitamin D is important for helping the body absorb calcium which is beneficial for many functions including bone growth. It also helps prevent bone and hair loss. You may also get vitamin D from exposure to sunlight.
- Vitamin E is another antioxidant. It helps support blood vessel development and immune function.
- Vitamin K is useful for helping with blood clotting.
- Calcium is a mineral that is necessary for strong teeth and bones.
- Iron is included in some supplements, but not all. Iron helps increase energy, improve brain function, and build healthy red blood cells.
- Magnesium is an essential nutrient which means it must be gotten from either food or supplements. It is important to bone health and energy production. Magnesium is beneficial for helping the body get good sleep.
- Omega-3 supplements help reduce inflammation and play a role in having a healthy heart. It can also help reduce anxiety and depression.
- Probiotics are live bacteria that help with gut health.
- Zinc is helpful for supporting the immune system and helps the body use protein, fat, and carbohydrates for energy. It’s also beneficial for helping with wound healing and managing stress.
Most multivitamins or broad-spectrum supplements include vitamins A, C, D, K, and B vitamins. They also include magnesium, copper, zinc, magnesium, selenium, and manganese. Others that may be included or taken as extra supplements include bioflavonoids, choline, alpha-lipoic acid, and inositol.
How to Take Vitamins
Even if you feel like you are getting these vitamins in your diet, you may not be, especially if you are excluding or limiting whole food groups like grains or meat. You can get additional supplements by taking a single multivitamin, or you can take specific supplements to make sure you are covering specific vitamins or minerals if you suspect you may not be consuming adequate amounts. Just make sure you know what the RDA is for each of them and stay within those guidelines. It is extremely rare that you would get too much of a vitamin, but it does occur occasionally.
For reference: Envura’s daily packs contain a Multivitamin containing vitamins A-K, 200mg of Magnesium, 900mg of Omega 3s (EPA & DHA), and 480mg of a phytonutrient blend.
Of course, eating a well-balanced diet is the best way to get adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals, supplements help provide you with the assurance that your body is getting what it needs to be healthy and whole.