If you take a stroll through your local drug store or walk through the pharmacy section at the grocery store you will see countless different options for vitamins and supplements. Many people take multivitamins to round out their nutrition but some people take too many vitamins and types of vitamins that they do not actually need. Below you will find a list of vitamins that you probably don’t need to be taking as well as the top 10 vitamin supplements you should consider.
Vitamin Supplements to Avoid
When it comes to vitamin supplements, bigger is not always better. Those giant vitamin C pills that you pop once a day might be completely unnecessary and, what’s worse, taking too many of them could actually induce an overdose. While some vitamins can only be taken from a limited number of foods or other natural sources, some vitamins can be found in a wide variety of foods which means that you probably already get enough of them in your daily diet. The top five vitamins this is most likely to apply to include:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B6
Top 10 Vitamin Supplements You May Need
1. Beta-Carotene – This vitamin can be found in green peppers, carrots, and sweet potatoes and it is a natural anti-oxidant. Avoid taking this supplement if you are a smoker because it has been correlated with an increased risk for lung cancer in smokers.
2. Calcium – Primarily found in dairy products, calcium is an essential vitamin needed for healthy bones and joints. If you don’t consume a lot of dairy, a daily calcium supplement may be helpful – just don’t take more than 500mg per day and try to pair it with vitamin D to maximize absorption.
3. Iron – The best food sources of iron include liver and other organ meats plus certain leafy green vegetables and seafood. If you are anemic, an iron supplement is highly recommended – it is also recommended for women who are pregnant or menstruating.
4. Folic Acid – This vitamin can be found in dark green vegetables, legumes, citrus fruits, and fortified carbohydrates. If you are pregnant or lactating, this supplement is very important and you should be taking about 400 to 600 µg daily.
5. Potassium – Potassium can be found in raisins, bananas, dairy products, and leafy greens. It can help to lower blood pressure and it may counteract the negative effects of high sodium levels.
6. Vitamin D – This vitamin can only be taken from natural sunlight and mushrooms grown in certain conditions. Vitamin D also helps with calcium absorption and it may help with bone and joint health. If you take this supplement, aim for 1000 IU per day.
7. Selenium – This mineral can be found in eggs, seafood, and other meats and the body only needs a small amount of it, about 200 µg daily. Keep in mind that you are likely to get enough selenium from natural food sources, so only take this supplement if it is really needed.
8. Fish Oil – This supplement is important for heart, brain, and joint health and it can be found naturally in fish oils and nut oils. If you don’t eat fish or nuts on a regular basis, you may be deficient in omega-3 fatty acids – taking fish oil supplements can help.
9. Vitamin K – This vitamin can be found in leafy green vegetables like kale and it is important for blood health. If you decide to take a vitamin K supplement, aim for 200 µg daily.
10. Multivitamins – If you don’t follow a healthy or balanced diet, a multivitamin might be the key to filling in nutritional gaps. Choose a multivitamin that contains vitamins A, C, D, E, and K plus zinc, potassium and iodine. Make sure the one you choose contains 100% your daily value of these vitamins and minerals without going over by too much.
It is important to remember that the vitamins you take in supplement form are less biologically valuable than the vitamins you get from natural food sources. For this reason, you should not consider your vitamin supplements a replacement for a healthy diet – they are only designed to supplement your diet in areas where certain types of nutrition may be lacking. Talk to your doctor before you start or stop taking any supplements.