Vitamins are an important part of a health diet. Unlike carbohydrates,
proteins, and fats, vitamins do not directly provide building blocks or
energy for your body; vitamins function as assistants to your body in
creating and breakdown down building blocks and storing and releasing
Vitamins come in two basic types: water-soluble and fat-soluble (see
the table on the website below)
Quick-Guide to Vitamins by Shoppe.MD Online Pharmacy
If your diet generally follows the USDA Food Guide Pyramid, you will
get the recommended daily allowances of vitamins (the amount people
generally need). But there are many reasons why these guidelines might
not get us the vitamins we need.
* Day-to-day living: In the rush of daily life, it may be hard to eat a
consistently balanced diet. Sometimes we skip meals or buy them from
sources (like fast-food restaurants) where we do not have easy access
to information about nutritional value.
* Pregnancy: If you are pregnant (or breastfeeding), you may need to
significantly change your vitamin intake. Folic acid is crucial to the
brain and nervous system development of, but at the same time an excess
of other vitamins (including vitamin A) can cause serious fetal injury.
* Seniority: Seniors often have difficulties eating or digesting
certain foods, including those that can provide vitamins
* Diets: Being on low-calorie diets or diets that restrict certain
types of food can significantly impact getting enough of all kinds of
So for many of us, vitamin supplements will be helpful in getting and
staying healthy. But like anything else we do for our health, it’s as
important to know the risks as the benefits.
* The “Too Much of a Good Thing” Trap: Vitamins in the proper doses
are good for you. But many vitamins are toxic in large quantities, so
taking more than enough may be a bad idea. Excess vitamin A can lead to
nausea, vomiting, and peeling skin, and over the long-term can lead to
significant damage to bones, brain and nerves. It can also be very
dangerous for a developing fetus. Vitamin E can cause a rise in LDL
(“bad”) cholesterol, and like all fat-soluble vitamins, is stored
in the liver, so if you take a little bit extra every day, the impact
can show up over time. Even vitamin D, the bone-building vitamin, can
actually encourage bone loss if taken in excess.
* Vitamins are not food: Vitamins are sometimes called
“micronutrients.” Small doses can keep us healthy. However, they
are not a substitute for the food that your body needs to make energy
and rebuild damaged tissue. Diets that severely restrict or eliminate
proteins, fats, or carbohydrates can impair functioning, and vitamins
cannot make up for that.
* Fetuses and children are not grown-ups: Children have special
vitamins for a reason – their bodies need different things than adults
do. Treat children’s supplements like any other medication; they may
taste like candy, but letting your child take more than the recommended
dose can have significant consequences. To keep a fetus growing
steadily and correctly, a vitamin discussion should be part of your
regular prenatal care.