Vitamins and supplements have long been touted as a necessity if we hope to live a long and healthy life. But a mounting pile of evidence is showing that perhaps vitamins – especially taking too much of one type – can actually be detrimental to our minds and bodies.
In this short post, we are going to give you the rundown on how you can best acquire your daily dose of vitamins, and where a bit of supplementation may be helpful or harmful.
Vitamin A: A powerful fat-soluble antioxidant
Vitamin A helps facilitate a number of our body’s critical functions, including:
- Neurological functioning
- Healthy skin
Being an antioxidant, it can also reduce inflammation and can fight against free radical damage.
Vitamin A can be obtained from animal sources or vegetable sources. The majority of women won’t need to take a supplement but rather can boost their levels to the recommended 2,300IU dosage by crunching on a large carrot or enjoying one cup of cantaloupe.
Vitamin B: A water-soluble metabolism booster
The 8 B vitamins are important for our metabolism, maintaining muscle tone, and keeping our minds sharp. Unless your healthcare practitioner states otherwise, you may only need to take a B9 (folic acid) supplement (400mg to 600mg) if you are pregnant or are planning to be. Otherwise, wholegrain bread, beans, or one cup of fortified cereal will do.
Vitamin C: The so-called “cold & flu” fighter
Despite its reputation, there is little evidence that vitamin C can help cure a cold. What this antioxidant can do, however, is bolster our immune system and it has been shown to decrease prenatal problems, eye illnesses, prevent heart disease, and it can even help heal wounds and prevent wrinkles. The majority of women can get their 75mgs a day by eating a cup of citrus fruit, vibrant vegetables, one red pepper or a single cup of broccoli.
Vitamin D: The “sunshine vitamin”
Here is one vitamin most healthcare professionals will agree should be supplemented. Known as the “sunshine vitamin” the majority of Australian adults are significantly lacking in this vitamin which offers protection against diabetes, a number of cancers, and helps maintain muscle function. Adults should take a supplement to receive a minimum of 1,000IU per day.
Calcium: The strong bone vitamin
Calcium, when taken in conjunction with vitamin D, goes a long way in protecting our bones when we begin to lose bone density in our mid-twenties. Strongly consider taking a supplement so that you can receive your 1,000mg every day.
Iron: The strong body vitamin
Be sure to speak with your healthcare professional before taking an iron supplement. Though it is critical for maintaining a strong immune system and for our red blood cells, too much iron can make us sick, and some studies have linked iron supplementation to an increased risk of premature death.
Supplements vs whole foods: which are better?
Most dieticians will agree that whole foods are almost always a better way to receive daily vitamins and minerals than supplements. Whole foods are loaded with micronutrients that can deliver additional health benefits, they are rich sources of dietary fibre, and many also contain phytochemicals which protect the body against cancers, heart disease, diabetes and more.
The bottom line is that before taking any supplementation, speak with your healthcare professional first. He or she may make dietary recommendations before suggesting you take a supplement, or they may uncover undiagnosed health concerns which can greatly benefit from a vitamin or mineral supplement.