Nutrition can be overwhelming. A lot of us can see products advertising that they are high in a specific vitamin but we don’t really know why we need them. We can walk through the health food aisle and see a lot of options and a lot of things we’ve never heard of. Navigating vitamins can be hard. Don’t worry, I’m here to help.
Are Vitamins Worth it?
In an ideal world, we would get all our nutrition from the food we eat. But that’s the ideal world, and not really our reality. Some of the issues with only relying on food for our vitamin needs are:
1. Nutrition and vitamin quality in our food has continuously decreased1
2. Life gets busy, we are eating on the run and don’t always have time to eat the best quality foods.
3. Sometimes to get the amount of a vitamin we need, you would have to eat large amounts of one specific food and let us be honest, there’s only so much Kale you want to eat.
4. Supplements can be a cost-effective way to boost your health. Supplements are cheaper than medicine
But taking supplements can be a scary thing to start. What should you take? How much? How much is to much? Are all supplements equal?
What Should You Take?
This is not a straight forward question. Just like most parts of nutrition, there is no one right answer. What vitamins you should take really depends on what nutrients you are missing. I highly recommend a general multi-vitamin to everyone, and of course vitamin D. But after these general recommendations it is impossible to know what you are missing without consulting a nutritional professional or your doctor.
How much should you take?
Also not a straight forward question. We have to consider something called the RDI, which is the recommend daily intake. But again not everyone is created equal. I personally take way more vitamin D than the RDI states because as someone with MS it is helpful. Also because I live in Canada I am deficient. A fun vitamin fact is that vitamin D can be made in the body with exposure to the sun, since Canadians live so far north, and half the year we are stuck indoors because of the weather we ar often vitamin D deficient.
The other thing to think about is how long you should take a vitamin. Sometimes you take a vitamin, like my multivitamin for example, indefinitely. Sometimes you only need a vitamin while you are deficient or in a period where you have a hard time getting these vitamins from your diet. Not all vitamins need to be taken all the time. Back to the vitamin D example, as Canadians we may need a supplement in the winter but get enough sunlight in the summer that we do not need it anymore.
Are all Supplements Equal?
No, not all supplements are equal. Many vitamins come in different forms, liquid, vs pills, vs powder for example. This choice is normally a choice of preference, and what you physically able to take.
Next, you have to look at the form, you can take D2 or D3 but these forms act differently in the body – so you need to make sure you choose the right one. This is where a health professional can come in as well.
So, are Vitamins Worth It?
Vitamins are worth it for the average individual because most of us are deficient in more than one nutrient. To be the healthiest you, you need good nutrition to build the building blocks of your body. Just remember not all supplements are needed and not all are created equal. When in doubt be sure to ask a professional
1. Pawlick, T. (2006). The end of food: how the food industry is destroying our food supply-and what you can do about it. Vancouver: Greystone Books.