Whether you’re juggling a busy lifestyle or following a restricted diet, you may find you’re not getting an optimal intake of vitamins and minerals. While healthy foods are a natural source of vitamins, taking vitamins is a convenient way to supplement your diet. From vitamin D to vitamin B12 to acai berry, Best Buy has a large selection of vitamins from Organika, Jamieson, Westcoast Naturals and Swiss Natural to suit your health needs.
Vitamins are an essential part of your health. Your body needs 13 core vitamins, including A, B, C, D and E, for things like healthy growth, nerve function and digestion. While many of us get our daily intake of vitamins from the food we eat, you may benefit from taking vitamins if your diet doesn’t provide you with all the necessary nutrients. For example, if you’re vegetarian or vegan, your diet may be lacking in some of the essential vitamins provided from meat and dairy products. Or, if junk food is a big part of your diet, you are probably not getting enough key nutrients.
While vitamin supplements shouldn’t replace a healthy diet of varied foods, you can take them to complement your diet and boost your health. Read on to find out more about vitamins.
Water-Soluble vs. Fat-Soluble Vitamins
Vitamins are either water soluble or fat soluble. Water-soluble vitamins are easily absorbed by the bloodstream and pass through your system quickly if your body doesn’t use them. Because of this, they need to be replenished more often, from either the foods you eat or vitamin supplements. Fat-soluble vitamins, on the other hand, take longer to break down and are stored in your body’s organs and fat tissues. Therefore, they don’t need to be replenished as often as water-soluble vitamins.
Types of Vitamins
With so many vitamins to choose from, you may be lost on where to start. Here is a breakdown of some vitamins and their health benefits.
Stay energized with vitamin B2. This water-soluble vitamin breaks down calories from carbohydrates, fats and proteins and turns them into energy. It’s also important in red blood cell production and tissue formation. While this vitamin is naturally found in milk, eggs, meat and green vegetables, a supplement is useful if you’re not getting enough of it in your diet.
Vitamin B12 is vital for maintaining a healthy nervous system, making red blood cells and regulating metabolism. It also keeps your heart happy – guarding against high cholesterol, high blood pressure and stroke. Although this water-soluble vitamin is found naturally in high-protein foods such as meat, shellfish, milk and eggs, it can also be taken as a supplement. If you’re vegetarian, vegan or lactose intolerant, a vitamin B12 supplement is a great way to maintain your intake.
You’ve probably taken vitamin C to help fight the common cold. While this water-soluble vitamin is best known for boosting your immune system, it also serves plenty of other important purposes. Your body needs it to form collagen in bones, muscles, cartilage and blood vessels, and it can also help prevent health problems such as cardiovascular disease, eye disease and immune system deficiencies.
Brighten up your health with some vitamin D. Aptly nicknamed “the sunshine vitamin,” this fat-soluble vitamin is naturally absorbed from sunlight and may help lower your risk for diseases such as cancer and osteoporosis. In colder climates and during the winter months, you may not get as much natural vitamin D, so taking a supplement is a good way to catch some vitamin D rays.
Calcium is essential for the development and maintenance of strong bones and teeth. It also helps your heart muscles and nerves work properly so you stay healthy. While calcium is found naturally in foods like milk and leafy green vegetables, it can also be taken as a supplement to when your diet lacks it. An adequate amount of calcium in your diet can help prevent disorders including osteoporosis and high blood pressure.
Often touted as a “superfood,” the acai berry is a fruit rich in antioxidants known as anthocynanins and flavonoids. Originating from the acai palm tree in Central and South America, this berry can fight the effects of free radicals, unstable molecules that can harm the body and lead to disease and aging.
Importance of Reading Labels
Natural Health Product Number (NPN)
Before taking any vitamins, it’s very important to read the bottle’s label. In Canada, vitamins are considered natural health products and are subject to the Natural Health Products Regulations. All vitamins are required to have a product license and undergo an assessment. When reading a vitamin label, look for an eight-digit Natural Health Product Number (NPN) or Homeopathic Medicine Number (DIN-HM), which shows that Health Canada has reviewed and approved the product for sale. If there is no NPN or DIN-HM, Health Canada has not tested the safety and efficacy of the product.
The ingredient list is another part of the label you should pay close attention to. Vitamins will list medicinal and non-medicinal ingredients:
- Medicinal ingredients are the ingredients that provide the vitamin’s effects. They are usually listed as their common name, followed by the source of the vitamin in brackets. Beside this, you will see you the dosage amount per capsule.
- Non-medicinal ingredients don’t contribute to the vitamin’s health effects, but may help in digestion and shelf life, among other things. However, some non-medicinal ingredients simply act as fillers and may actually have negative effects. Keep your eye out for preservatives, sweeteners, artificial colours, chemicals and glazes that don’t add any health value to the vitamins. If you’re allergic to certain things like lactose, gluten or soya, watch out for these, or look for a section that lists all the ingredients the vitamin does not contain.
Vitamin labels will often suggest a recommended daily dose, which may be one or more capsules. However, depending on the strength of each capsule and your own dietary needs, this dosage may or may not be suitable. If you’re already absorbing an adequate amount of vitamins from your daily diet, it’s possible to overdose on vitamins with a supplement. Also, your specific dosage requirement may depend on your age, gender, and other factors such as health conditions and pregnancy. Consult your doctor if you’re unsure about a vitamin dosage that suits your needs.
Carefully read any cautions or warnings listed on the vitamin label. This is especially important if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or have a chronic condition, allergies or dietary concerns.
Chelated or Time-Release Vitamins
Chelated, time-release or slow-release vitamins take more time to enter the bloodstream than regular vitamins. They dissolve more slowly so they’re released throughout the day. While these vitamins are generally more expensive than regular vitamins, there isn’t hard evidence that they’re healthier or more beneficial. However, if you have a sensitive stomach, these vitamins may be easier to handle.