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Vitamins. Should I be taking them? If so, which ones?

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We have been taught for most of our lives the benefits and necessity of vitamins and supplements to our overall health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, the last decade or so has not only proven that this is, in some cases, untrue, but has also stood to argue that vitamins can even be detrimental to our health and most importantly, completely unnecessary. There have been recent studies that have suggested that many of the most common vitamins, like multivitamins and vitamins C and B have little to no effect on the people that take them and that if a balanced diet is consumed you are bound to be healthier than if you took any vitamins at all.

In saying that, there are some vitamins that are worth their weight due to the bodies inability to find a healthy amount of the vitamin in foods or are difficult to absorb due to health issues, hormone changes, an unbalanced diet or environmental issues. Other cases where vitamins are helpful are in pregnancy, menopause or for people who are experiencing specific diseases or ailments. Outlined below will be a list of vitamins that are helping you and hindering you, for you to understand what is going into your body and why.

Scientific studies have shown that multivitamins are not doing you any better then what a balanced diet would do. A recent study has proven that there is no evidence of the supplement lessening the chances of a heart attack, stroke, or death of any kind. In saying that, the right multivitamin could help the body if you are experiencing extreme stress, sleeping poorly or are not able to get an adequate amount of exercise, as all of these factors will attack your body’s ability to absorb a lot of vitamins and minerals from food. The right multivitamin must contain the right ingredients for it to be benefiting you in any way. These include; magnesium, calcium, iron, vitamin D, zinc, folate and vitamin B-12.

Antioxidants are another supplement that has been said to be better to skip then to take. This is mainly because vitamin A, C and E are found in several fruits and vegetables and can be easily absorbed naturally. Unfortunately, the high dose of antioxidants in most supplements can be harmful, with studies as far back as 2007 showing that people who were taking these vitamins were more likely to die from any illness compared to those who were not taking anything at all.

Antioxidant supplements can prevent your body from being able to make its own natural antioxidants and therefore can prevent your body from protecting itself from free radicals. Some antioxidants can lead to an increase risk of cancer, with a large study of long-term smokers showing that those who took vitamin A had an increase risk of developing lung cancer then those who didn’t.

Zinc is one of the vitamins that you should consider taking, especially if you are feeling a cold coming on. A study on zinc has found that it noticeably reduces the length of colds and the severity of a colds symptoms. Zinc has the ability to interrupt and attack the Rhinovirus bug, which is the virus that is causing the cold. Adequate amounts of zinc have also been linked to healthy skin and skin rejuvenation, as well as helping the body to replicate new skin cells. The only worthy concern is that too much zinc can lead to the body being unable to absorb copper, which can then lead to an iron deficiency, so watch your intake and you can find a positive impact from zinc supplements.

Everyone has heard that vitamin C supplements are a great way to avoid the common cold and to build upon immunity. Unfortunately, a 2013 study has debunked this life-long belief and has said that eating citrus would do more for you in this regard then any kind of vitamin C supplement. It has also been found that too much vitamin C can cause kidney stones.

Group of mature healthy people doing stretching at park

An Omega 3 supplement may be worthwhile taking if you are not getting two serves of fatty fish into your diet each week. Omega 3 fatty acids are great for inflammation and can lower risks of heart disease, arthritis and cancer. Whether the supplement you choose has enough Omega 3 within it is a different story and some studies have suggested that Omega 3 supplements do not make that much of an extensive difference to the body. In saying that, it also has very limited unhealthy side-affects, so it is not going to hinder you either way.

Vitamin D is a tricky vitamin for your body to extract from food but is a very important to have a sufficient amount of this vitamin in your body for bone health, hormone regulation, heart health, immunity strength and cancer prevention. The body can make its own vitamin D when your body is exposed to sunlight where the vitamin is then made into a hormone in the body. If you are not getting enough exposure to sunlight due to work, weather or any other illness, it could be very beneficial to take a vitamin D supplement.

Probiotics are still out on the scientific research front in regard to their ability to regulate gut health. In saying that, it could not hurt incorporating the vitamin into your daily life. A healthy gut has the ability to prevent and even reverse chronic diseases. The ecosystem (microbiome) that is living in your gut is a very powerful tool in keeping your body healthy with 80% of your immune system living in your gut. Taking a probiotic can help to keep the balance of your microbiome in check, which can in turn ward off possibly debilitating illness’ such as anxiety, depression, leaky gut and autoimmunity.

Before you begin to rely on vitamins and supplements to remain healthy, keep in mind that the vitamin industry is one of the worlds most flourishing and rich multi-billion-dollar businesses. Also keep in mind your ability to obtain the same number of vitamins and minerals in your every day food and stay educated on what is being put into your body and the ability that whole foods have in creating the most perfect, healthy and well-rounded body. Although some vitamins can impact the body positively, many can lead to a negative impact on both your body and your pocket, so do your research before popping those pills.

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