Vitamin recommendations on who needs them and how to take them help you get the most out of their nutrients.
You may want to take vitamin supplements for a number of reasons including those provided by National institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements:
- To treat health conditions:
- Niacin to improve blood lipids
- COQ10 for heart disease
- Prevent vision loss from macular degeneration
- To make up for nutritional deficiencies due to diet (strict vegetarians) or bowel disorders
- To help prevent diseases through optimal cellular nutrition, and taking vitamin D to reduce risk of cancer.
- To follow NIH vitamin recommendations for who might benefit:
- Women who might become pregnant should get 400 mcg/day of folic acid from fortified foods and/or dietary supplements to reduce the risk of birth defects of the brain and spine in their newborn babies.
- Pregnant women should take an iron supplement as recommended by their health care provider. A prenatal MVM [multivitamin/mineral] is likely to provide iron.
- Breastfed and partially breastfed infants should receive vitamin D supplements of 400 IU/day, as should non-breastfed infants who drink less than about 1 quart per day of vitamin D-fortified formula or milk.
- In postmenopausal women, calcium and vitamin D supplements may increase bone strength and reduce the risk of fractures.
- People over age 50 should get recommended amounts of vitamin B12 from fortified foods and/or dietary supplements because they might not absorb enough of the B12 that is naturally found in food.
Vitamin Recommendations: How to Take Them
- Drink a full glass of water when taking vitamins.
- Take them with food, unless directed otherwise.
- If you have difficulty swallowing vitamins: drink water before taking them, take one at a time, or break them up and take with foods like apple sauce.
- Chewable vitamins must be chewed or allowed to dissolve in your mouth before swallowing.
- Measure liquid vitamin forms by using a special dose-measuring spoon or cup, not a regular table spoon. Ask your pharmacist where you can get one if you don’t have one.
- Liquid forms may be mixed with water, fruit juice, or infant formula (but not milk or other dairy products).
- Do not freeze liquid forms.
- Take vitamins regularly as indicated on directions to get the most benefit. It usually takes 2 or more months to notice benefits.
- Store vitamin supplements in their original container at room temperature away from moisture and heat (or in the refrigerator if instructed to do so).
- Check with your doctor before taking vitamins if you have a health condition or are on medication.
- Be aware of multivitamin side effects. The most serious side effects come from getting too much of one or more ingredients causing toxicity.
- Taking large doses of minerals will compete with other minerals to reduce their absorption.This competition is most likely to occur when taking calcium, magnesium or zinc because they are typically taken at higher doses that other minerals. For example taking high doses of zinc long-term can cause copper deficiency.To avoid this concern take these supplements at a different time of day than other mineral or a multivitamin supplements, advises ConsumerLab.com.
- Always read supplement labels, choose those with good manufacturing processes (GMP) and follow vitamin recommendations instructions carefully unless directed differently by your health provider.
You may want to supplement your diet to support natural healing and health based on these recommendations.
If you decide to take vitamins and/or minerals, get the most out of their nutrients with these 11 tips.
Sources and Resources
Giovannuci, E., “The epidemiology of vitamin D and cancer incidence and mortality: a review (United States),” Cancer Causes & Control, 2005 Mar;16(2):83-95.
Kansagara D, Gleitsmann K, Gillingham M, Freeman M, Quiñones A, Nutritional Supplements for Age-Related Macular Degeneration: A Systematic Review [Internet], http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22379659.
NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, “Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet:Multivitamin/mineral Supplements,” http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/MVMS-QuickFacts.
Strand, Ray D., Bionutrition: Winning the War Within- The Amazing Health Benefits of Vitamin Supplements(Rapid City, SD: Health Concepts, 2009).