The world of vitamins and supplements is a very confusing one. With so much information out there, it’s hard to tell which ones we should be taking and which ones aren’t worth the trouble. That’s why we spoke with a couple experts to help clear the air.
“All vitamins, minerals and trace minerals when taken in moderation may be helpful to maintain our everyday metabolism more effectively,” says Miami dermatologist Janice Lima-Maribona, MD.
That said, it’s more important to get your nutrients from your food. “They’re not really meant to replace a nutritious diet, they’re meant to boost it when you’re not really getting the nutrients from your food,” says Scottsdale, AZ, Mayo Clinic Women’s Health Internal Medicine expert Denise Millstine, MD
And what about those rumors that some supplements can cause weight gain? Both experts agree that there is no vitamin or supplement that will make you gain weight. However, “Some people who take supplements may feel some bloating with them, especially the multivitamins. But there’s no true weight gain,” says Dr. Millstine.
The same goes for the other way around too—unfortunately there’s no vitamin that directly causes weight loss. Indirectly, some people claim that B12 can help with weight loss. “It’s said to have lipotropic qualities by increasing energy therefore increasing caloric consumption by the body. However, the vitamin in and of itself does not cause weight loss,” says Dr. Lima-Maribona.
If you’re going to take any vitamins or supplements, there are certain supplements that are more useful than others. Dr. Lima-Maribona recommends taking biotin, vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin B12 for their hair, skin and nail benefits.
Dr. Millstine recommends calcium, vitamin D, omega-3 and a multivitamin that combines the vitamins and minerals that your body may be lacking.
When choosing a multivitamin, you should look for a one that has 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of each component and not much more than that. You should also avoid products that have artificial flavoring or coloring or any other additional chemicals.
There are also several vitamins that you should be careful with. Vitamins A, C and E are a few that can be dangerous when taken in higher than recommended amounts. Unless otherwise specified by your health care provider, you shouldn’t take more than the recommended amounts of these vitamins. For vitamin E, you shouldn’t consume more than 100 international units (IU) total of vitamin E in supplement form as it can cause internal bleeding and some say can possibly increase the risk of heart disease and cancer. Vitamin A can also potentially be toxic, especially if you’re a smoker.
Once you find a multivitamin or supplement you think could be a winner, bring it in to your physician or health care provider to have the contents reviewed. Another tip is to make sure you’re taking age appropriate multivitamins. “Young women should take women’s or prenatal multivitamins and older, post-menopausal women should take a multivitamin meant for ‘mature’ women,” says Dr. Millstine.
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