Vitamins and biologically active substances are necessary if you want to have a full and healthy life. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the body does not experience a lack of nutrients. There are a lot of all kinds of synthetic vitamins and vitamin complexes, as well as dietary supplements on the market.
What is the difference between vitamins and supplements?
Vitamins (lat. Vita – “life”) are necessary for the implementation of vital biochemical and physiological processes in living organisms. The human and animal body does not synthesize vitamins or synthesizes in insufficient quantities, so it must receive them in finished form with food. At the same time, vitamins have an extremely high biological activity and are required by the body in very small quantities – from a few micrograms to several mg per day.
Vitamin supplements are substances that can be added to the diet to promote health and prevent diseases such as osteoporosis or arthritis. Vitamin supplements are produced in the form of vitamin-mineral complexes and so-called dietary supplements (biologically active additives). Supplements include vitamin and mineral complexes, and various food substitutes, for example, protein shakes and herbal teas.
Why and when do you need to take vitamins and in which cases are vitamin supplements effective?
The main function of vitamins in human life is that they regulate the metabolism and thereby ensure the normal course of almost all biochemical and physiological processes in the body. They participate in hematopoiesis, ensure the normal functioning of the nervous, cardiovascular, immune and digestive systems, participate in the formation of enzymes, hormones, increase the body’s resistance to toxins, radionuclides and other harmful factors.
If there is a deficiency of one or another vitamin in the body, this can cause vitamin deficiency. There are two main degrees of such a deficiency: vitamin deficiency and hypovitaminosis. Vitamin deficiency is characterized by a deep deficiency of this vitamin in the body and a detailed clinical picture of its deficiency (diseases – scurvy, rickets, beriberi, pellagra, malignant anemia, etc.). Hypovitaminosis includes conditions of moderate deficiency with erased nonspecific manifestations (loss of appetite, fatigue, irritability) and certain symptoms (bleeding gums, pustular skin diseases, etc.).
Vitamins are prescribed to treat hypovitaminosis of various origins, as well as a deficiency of minerals and trace elements that arose due to the increased need of the body or due to a decrease in their intake with food. This may be due to:
- growth period, pregnancy, breast-feeding, during the recovery period, during treatment with antibacterial drugs, during and after chemotherapy;
- dietary and nutritional disorders, physical exertion, excessive use of alcohol or nicotine, gastrointestinal disorders.
For example, during pregnancy, the need for vitamins increases on average 1.5 times. In modern conditions, pregnant women do not receive an additional amount of vitamins and often experience a moderate or deep deficiency. It can range from 45% to 100% for different vitamins. The most common deficiency among pregnant women is a deficiency of vitamins B6 (100%), B1 (96%), folic acid (77%), and vitamin C (64%).
Do I need to take vitamin supplements? More often you don’t. Advertising often ascribes miraculous power to certain vitamin supplements, not supported by scientific evidence. Some dietary supplements contain substances that may not be available in your daily diet. If you start to eat healthy food, the body will receive all the necessary substances without vitamin supplements. Dietary supplements can be expensive but they may not have the promised effect.
Are there any restrictions on taking vitamins?
Indeed, there are a number of diseases in which there are contraindications for taking vitamins:
- impaired renal function, liver;
- metabolic disorders of iron and copper;
- sarcoidosis, active forms of tuberculosis;
- peptic ulcer of the stomach and duodenum in the acute stage;
- history of individual intolerance or anaphylaxis.
It is also important to remember that natural vitamins contained in foods are better absorbed and more slowly excreted than synthetic ones. Three to four meals a day allows you to maintain their content in the body at the required level.
Any disease is a test for the body, requiring the mobilization of protective forces. Therefore, a diet rich in vitamins is beneficial for every patient. At the same time, certain groups of vitamins are more effective in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Of course, before you start taking vitamins, you need to consult a doctor since any disease has its own characteristics.
Vitamins and supplements you can take all year round
- Omega-3 acids, 500-1000 mg per day. It is convenient to take it in the form of linseed oil, fish oil or krill oil. This acid is difficult to obtain in sufficient quantities through normal nutrition and it is extremely beneficial for the whole body;
- Probiotics. They are very different and aimed at different results. In addition, it is not necessary to take them in capsule format as they are also found in natural yogurt. The dosage is higher in capsules and it’s easier to take a capsule than to take natural yogurt every day. You can also add prebiotics to your diet.
Below you can find vitamins and supplements that should be taken for several months:
- Ubiquinol is an active form of Coenzyme Q10. It is especially beneficial if you are over 30. It is a good prevention of heart and vascular diseases. Besides, it tones the body;
- Vitamin D and calcium (they are well absorbed when taken together) in the winter. After all, everyone knows that vitamin D is produced ONLY under the influence of sunlight. In winter, the body needs additional support so as not to get depressed from a lack of this vitamin;
- Antioxidants. It is especially beneficial if you are over 30. Antioxidants fight free radicals that destroy the body. Astaxanthin is currently considered the best antioxidant. But there are many different options, you can explore them on the net.
There are many more supplements that are active for a specific problem: poor vision (lutein), weak joints (horse chestnut, rutin), etc.
Finally, nutritionists do not recommend taking multivitamin complexes constantly, especially without thoughtful analysis. They may contain unnecessary dosages, vitamins and minerals you do not need, or even those vitamins that you are allergic to.
And remember that self-medication can harm your health.