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Vitamin Supplements - A Pill Is Not Always The Answer

By Marc Lindsay

Vitamins are organic compounds that our bodies use, in very small amounts, for a variety of metabolic processes.

Taking vitamins 'just in case' is not a habit that anyone should get into and it is always recommended that vitamins are taken through wholesome and quality food.

There are many different reasons and types of people that may want or need to take supplements, some of these may include, some vegetarians, people who drink large amounts of alcohol, drug users, athletic people, pregnant and lactating women and elderly people.

Are you using Vitamins and Minerals like medicine pills?

There seems to be a trend occurring where it is believed that taking massive or "mega-doses of various vitamins will work like medicine to cure certain conditions. For example, vitamin C has been thought of as a cure for the common cold for generations and in fact you were probably even told this by your mother at some stage. Despite extensive research on this it has yet to be proven

Vitamins from food are best

Research indicates that most of the vitamins you get from the food you eat are better than those contained in pills. Even though the vitamins in supplements are synthesized to the exact chemical composition of naturally occurring vitamins, they still don't seem to work as well. For this reason when selecting a vitamin supplement it is important that a natural vitamin supplement is selected

Research has shown that a food component that has a particular effect on the body when present in food may not have the same effect when it is isolated and taken as a supplement. This could be because the vitamins and minerals in foods are also influenced by other components of the food, not just the 'active ingredient'.

Food is a complex source of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, which all work together. Supplements tend to work in isolation. Phytochemicals (plant chemicals) are an important component of food. They are thought to reduce the incidence of cancer and heart disease. Supplements do not provide the benefits of phytochemicals and other components found in food. Taking vitamin supplements is no substitute for a varied diet

A short term measure

Taking vitamin supplements should be viewed as a short term measure. The long term use of supplements can lead to symptoms of overdosing or poisoning. If you feel that you could be lacking in certain vitamins and minerals, it may be better to look at changing your diet and lifestyle rather than reaching for supplements.

This being said if you are a highly active person you may need to constantly supplement your vitamin intake as you will be using your sources much quicker then the average person.

You should always consult you doctor if you are thinking of starting a vitamin supplement routine

Specific medical conditions that can benefit from vitamin supplementation

There are specific medical conditions that are known to benefit from certain vitamin supplementation. In this case it is recommended that you consult your doctor first and then if you are searching for a vitamin supplement ensure that you are using a natural well formulated supplement.

Recent scientific studies have outlined some specific areas that can benefit largely from vitamin supplementation. These are:

  • If all women of childbearing age used multi vitamins with folic acid, it should be possible to reduce the current incidence of neural tube birth defects like spina bifida by as much as 70%.

  • The routine use of multi vitamins and mineral supplements by the elderly could improve immune function and thus reduce infectious disease, potentially cutting in half the total number of days they are sick.

  • Supplementation with calcium and vitamin D could reduce the rate of hip fracture among older people by at least 20%-meaning 40,000 to 50,000 fewer hip fractures each year in the United States-for an average annual savings of $1.5 to $2 billion.

  • The potential cost savings of a prevention-oriented approach to health and diet are tremendous. A 1997 analysis predicted that if the occurrence of cardiovascular disease, stroke and hip fracture were delayed five years, total U.S. health care cost savings could equal $89 billion annually.

  • While the addition of a multi vitamin would benefit most people, different additional supplements should be chosen based on the specific life stage, gender or lifestyle of the individual. For example, though calcium is generally important for all men and women, it is particularly critical for children building bone mass and elderly people seeking to preserve it.

Things to remember when taking supplements

  • Vitamins are organic compounds used by the body in small amounts for various metabolic processes.

  • Vitamin supplements can't replace a healthy diet.

  • Those who may need vitamin supplements include pregnant and lactating women, people who consume alcohol in amounts over those recommended as safe, drug users and the elderly.

  • When taking vitamins try to take a natural brand that follows all of the FDA guidelines.

Copyright 2005 Marc Lindsay


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