Confused about what vitamins to take: Which supplements should I be taking to be healthy?

Jennifer came in to the office for a routine check up. She was a generally healthy 45 year old who was starting to try to start taking better care of herself after years of caring for the other members of her family. She had great intentions to start exercising, was hopeful to improve her diet and lose weight.  She was getting caught up on all of her health screening such as mammograms.  She felt pretty well but was frustrated with the weight she had gained since having kids. She was “tired all the time” but felt this was normal given her busy schedule.

During the course of our visit Jennifer asked the inevitable question “What vitamins should I be taking? My friends keep telling me to take different things and I keep thinking that if I keep a healthy diet then I don’t need to take anything. My mother sent me this article from the New York Times  saying may multivitamins are not good and I am so confused!”.  This is a common problem we hear from our patients. They feel confused by all the conflicting information they hear from the media, from friends, neighbors and relatives.

As physicians, we know that there is in fact an important role for vitamins in health. However, much of the confusion and conflicting messages stem from the fact that we are not all the same. We all have different diets, lifestyles and health concerns. Why would it make sense that we take the same vitamins? When the New York Times or the US Preventive Services Task Force make blanket claims about vitamins they are often looking at one size fits all answers. The truth is a bit more nuanced.  It often takes a trained medical professional to help sort through all of this confusing information. We are here to help!

It turns out that there is lots of valid research supporting the use of certain vitamins for certain people in certain amounts.  There is not as much to suggest that a generic off the shelf multivitamin has great benefits for whole populations. However, specific examples include Vitamin D, which has great data supporting it’s benefits in improving mortality, reducing fractures and helping certain problems such as migraine and muscle aches. Most of the population is Vitamin D deficient if they do not take a supplement. Iron is useful for many people who don’t get enough via diet (vegetarians, vegans) or those who suffer from deficiency because of heavy periods, GI absorptions issues (such as celiac, inflammatory bowel and more) and for those who suffer from thinning hair.  Many people need supplemental B vitamins, magnesium and iodine due to lack of these vitamins in the food supply. Thus specific vitamins are very important in certain people depending on what they eat, who they are, and what symptoms they experience.

Yet, the opposite is also true. There are many vitamins shown to cause harm. For example taking supplemental Vitamin A has been associated with cancer and osteoporosis. Vitamin E in high doses has been shown to cause harm. Taking too much vitamin D also can cause kidney stones, mental status changes and more.  Taking the wrong vitamins doses or improper doses of even helpful vitamins can be dangerous. No wonder Jennifer was confused!

In her case, a conversation about her diet and health habits made clear that her efforts to be healthful meant she was no longer eating red meat and was severely lacking in iron. She was vitamin D deficient and also was in need of additional B12, magnesium and iodine to support her thyroid.  The correct combination of vitamins led to her improving her energy, ability to exercise and ultimately helped her to lose the pounds she had hoped to lose.

There is great scientific data to prove that some vitamins have benefit. But who needs which vitamin and what amount are the more challenging questions.  It is for this reason that as physicians we conceived of Vous Vitamin. We created a venue where people can take a brief online survey(take our personalized vitamin quiz) about themselves, their diet, lifestyle and health concerns to get the exact vitamins to meet their individual needs. Not too much, not too little. A personalized multivitamin is a simple one pill solution that helps our customers get a doctor created, medically sound and high quality product to meet their needs. Almost everybody can benefit from adding the right vitamins to their routine. Knowing which ones are needed and in what doses is the key.

 


Romy Block specializes in Endocrinology and Metabolism and is mother to three active adolescent boys. Arielle Levitan is a Doctor of Internal Medicine with a special interest in Preventive Medicine and Women’s Health.  She is a mother of three teen agers. As professional women with active family lives, they recognize that people often neglect their own health needs and are uncertain about what vitamins to take. Each person is different in her diet, exercise and health history, and will benefit from different nutrients.  After years of advising their patients about the proper vitamins to take,  Drs. Block and Levitan created Vous Vitamin® to provide people everywhere with quality vitamins that are suited to their individual needs. They are authors of the award winning The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear Confusion About Vitamins and Your Health (She Writes Press, 2015). Take your vitamin survey now to get exactly the right vitamins for your needs.

The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products offered by Vous Vitamin® are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Nothing contained herein is intended to be a diagnosis or constitute medical advice.  The symptoms described in this Blog may be a result of a serious medical condition which requires medical treatment.  You should consult with your doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in this Blog and before beginning any vitamin or supplement regimen.

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