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Should You Take Vitamins?

You may have a hung jury on this one. Some people never leave home without taking their daily dose of vitamins, while others either ignore them completely or take them on a haphazard basis. But before we arrive at a verdict, let us examine
what vitamins are.

Vitamins are essential micronutrients –substances an organism needs in small quantities for proper functioning.

Can you get vitamins from food?

The answer is yes. Your body needs 13 vitamins:

Vitamin A – found in eggs, meat, dairy products and green, leafy vegetables.
B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate) – found in bread, cereals, fish, milk. lean meat, green leafy vegetables, nuts, eggs, beans, legumes, shellfish and poultry.
Vitamin C – strawberries, tomatoes, sweet and white potatoes, broccoli
Vitamin D – Cheese, butter, margarine, fortified milk, fish and the sun
Vitamin E – Green leafy vegetables, vegetable oil, corn, nuts, olives and wheat germ
Vitamin K – Green leafy vegetables, cauliflower, spinach, cabbage and cereals

When are supplements needed?

The National Institute of Health (NIH) states that eating a well-balanced diet will provide you with the recommended amount of most vitamins. The exception is Vitamin E, which the NIH says cannot be obtained from food alone and a supplement may be needed. Also, for those persons who live in cold climates where they don’t get enough sunshine – at least 10 to 15 minutes 3 times a week – and they don’t eat dairy products, they may need supplements to boost their nutrition.

From what you read above, you can tell whether you need vitamins or not, or your doctor will tell you if he notices deficiencies when you do your blood work. Vitamin advocates say we should all be taking supplements because our food may not contain all the vitamins by the time it gets to us. That may be true, but to be safe, consult your doctor before you rush out and purchase vitamins.

Does anyone need vitamins?

There are some people for whom a doctor may prescribe vitamins:

1. The elderly – they may have difficulty absorbing Vit. B 12 from food.

2. Vegans and vegetarians – because they don’t eat dairy products and meat, they too may lack Vit. B 12

3. Pregnant women – doctors may prescribe folic acid for this group because it is so important for the proper development of unborn babies.

4. People in cold climes – as mentioned above, people who don’t get enough sunshine may be low in Vit. D.

So, do you need vitamins? The verdict is, consult your doctor if you feel tired, get colds easily or feel something is wrong. You may or may not need vitamins.