Guide to Vitamin Supplements

About Vitamin Supplements

It should come as no surprise how important vitamin supplements are in your daily routine. This is due to many researchers coming out with studies showing the importance of certain nutrients, including the Dietary Guidelines for Americans that show exactly what everyone’s nutritional needs are. If through your diet you aren’t getting the right amount of nutrients, you will need to get them through vitamin supplements. These can be capsules, tablets, liquids, or chewable vitamins, but no matter what form they come in, you need to get the right vitamin supplements for you and your family.

Vitamin Supplements and Whole Foods

While some dietary restrictions cause you to be lax on some important nutrients in which vitamin supplements come in handy, they shouldn’t be considered substitutes for food. Vitamin supplements are only good when you’re missing out on some core vitamins or have a health condition requiring larger amounts of one type of vitamin or mineral. Food with vitamins and minerals will have higher nutritional content, so keep that in mind when deciding which vitamin supplements to get.

Who Needs Vitamin Supplements

While they aren’t necessary for everyone, some groups of people will need to take additional vitamin supplements for complete nutrition each day. This includes women who are pregnant and need additional folic acid and other nutrients that food can’t provide, adults over the age of 50 who need additional B vitamins especially B12, anyone who doesn’t consume at least 1,600 calories a day, vegetarians and vegans who are on a limited diet and need additional nutrients by not eating meat and dairy, women who bleed heavily during their menstrual period and need additional iron supplements, and anyone with certain medical conditions causing lack of absorption of nutrients, such as food intolerance, food allergies, liver or gallbladder disease, or chronic diarrhea.

Choosing Vitamin Supplements

There are some things you should pay close attention to when choosing and purchasing your vitamin supplements. To start with, always read the label entirely. This includes reading the expiration date, what nutrients are included, the proper dosage, the form of the vitamin supplement, how often to take it, possible side effects and any other warnings. You also want to avoid megadoses of vitamins and instead stick to a multi-vitamin if you need to take several different types of vitamin supplements. When taking vitamin supplements, be careful what you eat so that you aren’t getting too much of certain nutrients. For example, if you’re taking an iron supplement for loss of blood or anemia, don’t eat a large amount of meat, otherwise you don’t need the iron supplement. Lastly, pay close attention to drug recalls and avoid those that have been recalled.

Benefits of Vitamin Supplements

Vitamin supplements provide so many different benefits, including those you may have not considered. Walking down the vitamin aisle in your local drug store, pharmacy, or grocery store, it can be overwhelming. But not everyone needs every time of vitamin supplement. This is because the majority of people will get the nutrients they need by eating a healthy diet of nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. However if decide to take some vitamin supplements, the following benefits will offer you the many reasons why it’s a good idea.

Get the Missing Nutrients

If for whatever reason, you aren’t getting enough nutrients in your everyday diet, then vitamin supplements will be very beneficial for you. If you don’t like certain foods like vegetable or whole grains, follow a specific diet that is missing some of the core vitamins, or need to supplement certain nutrients for another reason, then this is going to be your biggest benefit to taking vitamin supplements. Essential vitamins for overall health are B-complex vitamins, calcium, potassium, iron and vitamin D; if you are missing these or other important vitamins, you should consider a vitamin supplement.

Lifestyle Factors

Another benefit to taking vitamin supplements have to do with your current lifestyle, outside of your eating habits. For example, if you’re a woman who tends to bleed heavily during her menstrual period, you will benefit greatly from an iron supplement. An older adult over the age of 50 needs additional vitamins that your food might not provide, so there is another benefit for you. Someone living a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle may need additional vitamin D, iron and B12 not available in your ordinary foods whereas that is your benefit. If you lack energy, you can get a good boost of it with some vitamin supplements.

Health and Medical Reasons

You may also have a certain disease, illness, or medical condition that requires additional nutrients you aren’t getting from the foods you eat. For example, someone who has certain food allergies or food interolances will benefit from vitamin supplements of those missing nutrients. If you have a history of cancer or similar medical conditions, your body doesn’t absorb nutrients properly, so even if you eat a healthy diet, you still need to supplement the nutrients your body isn’t absorbing. Some medications you’re taking may be stripping the important nutrients from your body where you will need vitamin supplements to make up the difference. Regardless of the reason you need vitamin supplements, you’re going to find benefits. They shouldn’t replace a healthy diet, but if your lifestyle, eating habits, or medical conditions are keeping you from getting certain vitamins and minerals, vitamin supplements can help greatly.

Types of Vitamin Supplements

If you have been thinking about taking vitamin supplements, you’re about to find out just how many different types there are! It can be helpful choosing different vitamins if you don’t get enough nutrients from the foods you eat, but they should never be taken as a substitute for eating unless you follow a specific diet approve by your doctor that leaves you without some of the nutrients your body needs. Everyone needs at least the 13 essential vitamins including all of the B vitamins, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin E. The following provides information about each classification and type of vitamin supplement.

Forms of Vitamin Supplements

The first thing to know about the different vitamin supplements is what form they come in. You will notice vitamin supplements come in many different forms such as tablets, capsules, liquid or chewable vitamins. The form you choose may be based on availability, price, personal preference, or ability. If you just had oral surgery and your mouth is still hurting, you won’t want a chewable and perhaps would prefer a liquid or tablet. However if you don’t like swallowing pills, a chewable or liquid come in handy. Some people prefer the small size of tablets, while others like the soft capsules.


The first type of vitamin supplement is classified as natural. These are vitamins or supplements that come directly from a food source. These natural vitamin supplements should be coming from nutrients only found in nature, such as from liver, yeast, corn, rose hips, or alfalfa. Pay attention to the labels because something might be labeled as a natural vitamin supplement but does not indeed come from nature.


The next type of vitamin supplement is a synthetic supplement. Synthetic vitamin supplements are made in laboratories from a variety of chemicals, though they may contain some natural ingredients. However because they aren’t 100% food based, they can’t be considered natural. They often contain some type of fillers or binders. If you have sensitivities to allergies or gastrointestinal issues, you should avoid synthetic vitamin supplements and stick to natural, food-based ones.

Organic and Inorganic

Lastly, there is a final classification of vitamin supplements that are either called organic or inorganic. Organic vitamin supplements are those from organically grown foods, or foods not grown with pesticides, herbicides or other chemical additives. Inorganic vitamin supplements might be extracted from inorganic food. Therefore, they can be called natural since they’re food-based but inorganic because the crops were not grown organically. It is best to read the label of the vitamin supplements to find out if they’re organic or not.

Side Effects of Vitamin Supplements

There are 13 main vitamins that are important for proper bodily functions and overall health; vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, B1, B2, B3, B6, folate, B12, biotin, vitamin C, and pantothenic acid. If you don’t eat foods rich in these vitamins, you will need to take a vitamin supplement to make up the difference. However most vitamin supplements will come with their own share of side effects that you should be aware of.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an important vitamin for overall health as well as eliminating the risk for diseases such as scurvy and will help improve your immune system to keep away viruses like the cold or flu. However there are some side effects to taking vitamin C, including diarrhea and kidney stones. The side effects are rare but they should still be considered.

Folic Acid

Folic acid is important for most people and is an ingredient in multi-vitamins as well as prenatal vitamins. Pregnant women and women trying to get pregnant should get additional folic acid to reduce the risk of birth defects in their unborn child. However if someone taking folic acid has epilepsy, they may experience more seizures due to an interaction with epilepsy medications.

Vitamin B3

Also called niacin, B3 is one of the B-complex vitamins that help improve your overall health. However it does include some side effects including flushing of the skin, itching, and a possible allergic reaction when taking in combination with aspirin and/or alcohol.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin found in green, leafy vegetables. If you don’t eat a healthy diet of vegetable, you most likely have a vitamin K deficiency and will need a vitamin supplement. If you take this supplement, expect some side effects like anemia (with very high doses), along with the fact that it can thin your blood or cause circulatory complications.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A has a variety of benefits including being good for your eyesight, anti-infection, antioxidant and immunity booster. However like most other vitamin supplements, vitamin A has some side effects which high doses such as dry skin, bone pain, nausea, and vomiting

Avoiding Side Effects

Most side effects of vitamin supplements vary in severity based on the individual, age, health conditions, how susceptible they are to each individual side effect and how much they take. If you’re taking a very high dose of one of these or other vitamin supplements, you’re bound to have more intense side effects than someone taking low doses. Be sure only to take the recommended dose and let your doctor know if you have side effects.

How to Choose Vitamin Supplements

Vitamin supplements can benefit you in a variety of ways, but how do you choose the right ones? It takes a variety of methods to be sure you have chosen correctly. Typically, you will start by considering what your goals or current health status is and go from there. There are so many different vitamin supplements that are meant for different conditions, that you will first need to know what you want to take them for. The following will offer tips for figuring out how to choose the right vitamin supplements.

Health Needs

First, consider what your overall health needs are and what you need the vitamin supplements for. Maybe you need a prenatal vitamin because you just found out you’re pregnant, or a B-complex vitamin for overall health. If you are a woman over 50, it is advisable you get a calcium vitamin supplement. If you have dietary restrictions, you might need additional supplements like iron if you’re anemic, or a combination of vitamins if you’re a vegan or vegetarian.

Talk to Your Doctor

Before continuing with choosing the right vitamin supplements, you should consult your doctor. They might have recommendations for you based on your most recent health evaluation. You can also get a physical and updated blood test to find out if you’re missing any necessary vitamins. For example, he may recommend iron if you’re borderline anemic or other vitamins based on your age or weight.

Types of Vitamin Supplements

Aside from the different vitamin supplement varieties, there are also different forms you can choose from. The form of vitamin supplement you choose will depend on your personal preferences or how you prefer to administer vitamins. You can find them in capsules, tablets, pills or liquids. If you like smaller pills, tablets will be good for you. Some people don’t like to swallow pills, where liquids or chewables will be most beneficial. Capsules are often bigger but you might get to take just 1 a day rather than multiple pills so they might be easiest.

Do Your Research

By now you have decided what types and forms of vitamin supplements you want to take, however you should do a little more research. The reason for this is that you will know you’re getting sufficient nutrition. If the foods you eat don’t provide you with enough nutrients, you will want to be sure to get enough vitamin supplements to fill in the nutritional gap in your daily lifestyle. You should also read the labels carefully in regards to how much you take and how often, if you need to take with food, potential side effects and reading the expiration date.

Where to Buy Vitamin Supplements

If you don’t currently eat a healthy, nutritious diet filled with all 13 necessary vitamins for body functions, you will want to supplement the missing nutrients with a vitamin supplement. Whether you need one vitamin supplement, or 10, you will first need to make some decisions. There are many different places that sell vitamin supplements, but you should be picky when you decide where to get them from. Always pay attention to the labels, such as if they’re natural and food based, organic, or what the side effects are.

Doctor Recommendation

The first thing you should be before attempting to go out and buy vitamin supplements is talk to your doctor. You want to find out if he or she has any recommendations, not only in the type of supplements, but the brands and where to get them from. There might be some brands of supplements that your doctor prefers over others. The doctor will also let you know if you need certain types of vitamin supplements based on your current health status or other medications you’re taking. If the vitamin supplement you’re thinking about getting will have a bad interaction with a medical condition or prescription drug you’re taking, they may have other suggestions or give you a different prescription medication.

Read the Labels

When you start shopping around for vitamin supplements, the most important thing to note is the label. No matter where you choose to buy your vitamin supplements from, whether it is a local pharmacy or online drug store, you need to know what the label says. This includes the dosage and strength of each pill or tablespoon of liquid, the form of the vitamin supplement, if it is natural or not, whether or not it is organic, how often to take it, warnings and side effects. If you know you need 400 mcg of folic acid every day, but the drug store you visit only has them in 100 mcg pills, you might try somewhere else. It can be easier to find 400 mcg strength pills where you only take 1 a day, rather than taking 4 a day that are available somewhere else.

Where to Buy Vitamin Supplements

Finally it’s time to discuss where exactly you can buy your vitamin supplements. You will find them in a variety of places both locally and online. If you prefer buying locally to see the bottles up close and avoid paying shipping fees, you have many choices. You can choose a local pharmacy, drug store, grocery store, box store like Costco or Walmart, or other specialty stores like health food stores or those specifically meant for vitamins and supplements like GNC. Online you also have choices and will get the benefit of shopping around without having to drive and waste your gas money.

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