Are Vitamins Necessary?

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Are Vitamins Necessary?

Approximately half of American adults take a vitamin supplement. But are vitamins necessary and do they contribute to a healthier life?

Vitamins are organic substances made by plants or animals. They include vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K. Minerals are inorganic elements that come from soil and water. They include calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. A multivitamin cannot replace a healthy, well-balanced diet, according to the Mayo Clinic. The body recognizes and absorbs nutrients naturally found in foods much better than a supplement. For example, the body can obtain 100 percent of its needs by taking a vitamin C capsule. However, consuming an orange not only provides vitamin C, but also contains beta carotene, calcium, and other nutrients. A multivitamin, however, may fill nutritional gaps for those who do not consume enough healthy foods. It can benefit people who have food allergies or intolerances, are pregnant, or have a disease or condition that affects nutrient intake. Unlike prescription medications, supplements are not evaluated by the federal government. To help ensure health and safety, the Mayo Clinic offers the following tips regarding supplements:

Avoid megadoses

High-dose supplements can cause toxic levels of nutrients to build up in the body. Select a vitamin that provides about 100 percent of the daily value, unless a healthcare professional suggests otherwise. A brand-name product is not necessary.

Look for “USP Verified” on the label

This label ensures the product meets strength, quality, and purity standards set forth by US Pharmacopeia (USP), an independent, nonprofit testing organization.

Be aware of extras

There is no need to purchase products with special ingredients, or added herbs, enzymes, amino acids, or unusual contents. These extras usually add nothing.

Check the expiration date

Vitamins and supplements can become less effective over time. Ask the experts Everyone’s vitamin needs are different. Talk to a healthcare professional to determine if you need a vitamin or mineral supplement, and to ensure it does not interact with any medications. While supplements can be helpful, be mindful of what you eat. Supplements should not be used to replace healthy eating, the Cleveland Clinic states.

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