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While having breakfast with a co-worker I was asked for my opinion regarding Vitamin Supplementation.  Answering from a Medical Nutrition Therapy view point, I stated, unless there is a situation where food choices are altered resulting in a severe physiologic deficiency such as (allergies, bariatrics) or environmental issues i.e. (limited sunlight-vitamin D), or alternative dietary patterns i.e. (Vegan) I do not see the need.

Webster defines vitamins as “any of various fat-soluble or water soluble organic substances essential in minute amounts for normal growth and activity of the body obtained naturally from plant and animal foods”. Therefore, when we eat a balanced meal rather it is breakfast, lunch or dinner, we are taking in all the vitamins we need.  Even though our Western diet has some problems it is not deficient in vitamins.

Statistically, 76% of the American population are taking some form of a vitamin supplement as an avenue to meet their nutritional needs to ultimately improve their health and wellbeing.  However, according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, nutritional needs should be met primarily from “food”.  These guidelines suggest we should strive to meet our nutrient needs by developing healthy eating habits centered around consuming “nutrient dense” foods.   Nutrient-dense foods provide essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and other naturally occurring substances which are vital to achieve and sustain a health.

The American Cancer Society has reported that there are chemicals in fruits and vegetables that work together in ways that scientist do not fully understand, and which cannot be replicated in a tablet (vitamins).  Evidence based data indicates that the nutritional effectiveness and absorption rate of vitamins and minerals found in food is by far more powerful and beneficial than what is offered in tablet/pill forms.  This reaction primarily is due to the synergetic effects of food where the health benefits of Vitamin C received from eating an Orange outweighs the benefits of swallowing a Vitamin C tablet.

If you are not following “healthy dietary patterns” of consuming green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, fiber and lean meats and want to ensure that you are getting sufficient vitamins then perhaps a supplement is warranted. Listed are a few suggestions to consider prior to initiating a Vitamin Supplementation Program – ABC’s of Vitamins.

  1. Be Selective:Select well-known brand names offering 100% of the recommended intake.  Avoid Mega dosage which may interfere with medications, consult your MD.
  2. Consider Absorption:Take vitamins with food (meals) to improve absorption.

    Divided dosage improves absorption – select pills offering 3 x a day dosing, the body can only absorb so much at a given time.

  3. Know your Vitamins:Water Soluble Vitamins: All B Vitamins and Vitamin C.  These vitamins will be excreted in the urine and not stored in the body, except for B12.

    Fat Soluble Vitamins: Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E.  These vitamins are stored in the fat cells, and can build up in the body and possibly cause harm.  Take these vitamin with caution avoid Mega Dosage.

 Remember “Food First” is the key to achieve optimal health and well being…