Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients that are needed to support the normal functions of our bodies. They play key roles in growth and development, immune health, and wellbeing.
Vitamins and minerals are not made by our bodies (except for vitamin D), so we must get them from food. Some people are not able to get enough vitamins and minerals from food alone to meet their needs. This is where dietary supplements can help.
There are a variety of reasons why someone may not be meeting their nutrient needs. Their vitamin and mineral needs may be higher due to pregnancy, breastfeeding, or certain health situations. Those with particular types of digestive concerns may also have a harder time absorbing certain nutrients.
If you can get all your vitamins and minerals from food, that is ideal. In order to do this, you need to eat a wide variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, grains, animal protein, dairy, nuts, seeds, and legumes. If you are able to do this, that’s wonderful! But in today’s modern world, this is not always possible and dietary supplements can help fill in these gaps.
It may be helpful to take vitamin and mineral supplements if you are on a special diet, have increased needs, or have issues with absorption.
A vegan diet removes all animal products (including milk and eggs). Animal products are the primary natural food source of vitamin B12.
A deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to a variety of health problems including anemia and neurological problems. Therefore, those following a vegan diet need to get vitamin B12 from fortified foods and/or dietary supplements. Those who are vegetarian may also be at risk for B12 deficiency, depending on the diet.
Diet low in fruits and vegetables
Most of us know that eating fruits and vegetables is important for health. They contain key micronutrients such as folate, potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C. However, most U.S. adults are not meeting the recommended amounts. Are you?
People may not be meeting fruit and vegetable needs because of taste preferences, low carb or ketogenic diets, low calorie diets, allergies, or digestive concerns. There are also socioeconomic factors that may influence access to fruits and vegetables, but that is a topic for another time.
As discussed above, meeting nutrients needs from the diet is great. But if you are not able to do this, we offer a variety of Multivitamin supplements to help you cover your bases.
Low vitamin D levels
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is important for healthy bone growth and immune function. It also helps the body absorb calcium.
The body makes vitamin D in response to sun exposure on the skin. But cold temperatures and long working hours can reduce sun exposure. Older people and those with dark-colored skin do not make as much vitamin D.
Vitamin D is naturally found in fatty fish and fish liver oil. Beyond that, the food supply is fortified with vitamin D being added to milk and breakfast cereals. But this may not be enough for some people to reach proper blood levels.
According to the National Institutes of Health, “almost one out of four people have vitamin D blood levels that are too low or inadequate for bone and overall health.” You can work with your healthcare provider to decide if supplementing with vitamin D is right for you.
Nutrient needs increase during pregnancy. This includes the need for iron, folate, and vitamin D. These and other vitamins and minerals are essential to support the proper growth and development of the fetus.
It can be difficult for pregnant people to meet the increased nutrient demand from food alone. This is why The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant people take a prenatal vitamin.
Poor absorption of nutrients
Those with certain digestive issues and people taking certain types of medications may have issues absorbing vitamin B12. It’s important to work with your healthcare provider to determine if you need to take a B12 supplement. In some cases, B12 injections may be needed to overcome major absorption issues.
Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) are best absorbed when eaten with some fat. Those who are on a low fat diet or those who have issues absorbing fats may be at risk for deficiency and should consider supplementing.
When it comes to taking vitamin and mineral supplements, it’s important to take the right doses for your individual needs. There are also certain situations where specific types of vitamins may be harmful to some people.
There are potential drug-nutrient interactions for certain medications. If you are on any medications, it is essential to talk to your doctor or pharmacist before starting a dietary supplement.
Research suggests that high doses of vitamin A can increase health risks for those who smoke.
During pregnancy, adequate levels of vitamin A are essential for the growth of cells and organs. High doses of retinoids can be toxic to the body, so it’s usually best to look for beta-carotene when supplementing during pregnancy.
Overall, it’s recommended to discuss vitamin and mineral supplements with your healthcare provider. They can suggest the best options for your situation and alert you to any concerns.
Vitamin and mineral supplements can help fill in dietary gaps and provide a baseline to support proper nutrients levels. While it is ideal to meet your needs from diet, this is not always possible. Furthermore, those who have increased needs or poor absorption may benefit from supplements. Interested in finding out which supplements can support your health goals? Take our quiz to create your own custom daily vitamin pack.