If there’s one thing I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older, sometimes I need a little help with my nutrition. Taking vitamins can help supplement your diet to ensure you get all the essential vitamins and nutrients you need for a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, many of us don’t eat the proper foods to consume all the vitamins we need. We focus on specific aspects of our diet, like protein and fiber, with little consideration for vitamins and minerals. Supplements ensure you get the right amount of vitamins and minerals based on your health needs.
But when should you take vitamins? Is there anything else you should consider? Keep reading to learn more about when to take vitamins and what else you should know about them.
Best Time of Day to Take Vitamins
There’s no single best time of day to take vitamins. Many people (me included) prefer to take them in the morning, while they are still bundled up in their sweats and pajamas as part of their routine, especially if the goal is to increase their energy with B vitamins like nicotinamide riboside or a vitamin B complex.
Most vitamins can be taken with or without food, but experts recommend eating them with food since the capsule and other ingredients can cause minor digestive upset when consumed on an empty stomach.
What Vitamins do You Need Based on Age?
While there’s no specific time of day better than another for taking vitamins, our vitamin needs change throughout our lives. Here are the different vitamins you need based on your age:
Newborns drink breast milk for most of their nutrients. However, they still need additional nutrients like vitamin D and iron they can’t get from their mother’s milk. Formula-fed babies typically have higher levels of vitamin D because formulas are fortified with essential nutrients. Those who drink the recommended amount likely don’t need additional supplementation.
Babies should also get enough iron to prevent anemia. Again, formula is fortified with iron, so formula-fed babies won’t need additional supplementation. However, doctors may recommend a specific dosage for breastfed babies.
There are no recommended supplements for children or teens as provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics. If your children eat a healthy, balanced diet, they shouldn’t need supplementation. However, additional vitamins won’t hurt, so giving them a daily multivitamin might be beneficial, especially vitamins that heal wounds, due to all the bumps and skinned knees children may get while playing.
A supplement may be necessary if your children follow any specific dietary restrictions, such as a vegan diet. Set up a call with your health services administrator and set up an appointment to discuss your children’s diet with your doctor to ensure they’re getting enough essential nutrients.
Adults in their 20s and 30s have a range of dietary needs that depend on their diets. As long as you’re eating a balanced diet, you should be getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals you need. However, only your doctor can determine whether you’re deficient in a particular nutrient.
Some individuals require additional supplementation in adulthood. For instance, pregnant or nursing women should take a prenatal vitamin with folic acid to reduce the potential for congenital disabilities. Additionally, individuals on a vegan or plant-based diet should supplement with vitamin B12 they can’t get through food.
Older adults should consider a diet that includes vitamin D-fortified foods and calcium to support bone health. There are no specific supplementation recommendations for healthy older adults, but a multivitamin is a safe option if you’re unsure.
In general, many seniors are at risk of vitamin D deficiency if they spend less time in the sun as they age. In addition, their skin has a decreased ability to synthesize vitamin D through the skin.
Older adults may also be more prone to vitamin B deficiencies since the body may not be as effective at absorbing this vitamin from food. Calcium is another important nutrient for seniors because it helps maintain bone health to prevent osteoporosis.
Are Vitamins and Supplements Necessary?
Whether you need to take supplements depends on your health, diet, and age. Most individuals can get all the vitamins and minerals they need from their diet by eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins, and healthy fats.
Of course, there are some situations when taking vitamins might be necessary, such as:
- Deficiencies: if your doctor finds that you’re deficient in vitamins or minerals, they’ll create a targeted plan for you based on your individual needs.
- Restricted diets: Individuals on restricted diets like vegan or vegetarian diets may not be able to obtain vitamin B in their diet because it’s typically found in animal products. Instead, they may require supplementation.
- Specific life factors: Specific life factors like pregnancy, breastfeeding, and infancy may require increased nutrient intake in the form of supplements.
- Medical conditions: Some medical conditions result in malabsorption issues. Individuals with celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and some GI issues may require supplementation to ensure their body absorbs enough nutrients.
So are vitamins necessary? Sometimes, but it ultimately depends on your health, diet, and life stage. Only a medical professional or dietician can tell you if your diet is providing you with enough vitamins and minerals for your specific needs.
Dangers of Vitamins
Believe it or not, consuming too many vitamins can be dangerous for you. While generally safe for healthy adults, misuse of vitamin supplements can lead to toxicity. For instance, vitamins A, D, E, and K (fat-soluble vitamins) can accumulate over time, especially when taken in excessive amounts.
In addition, some supplements can interact with medications and potentially cause side effects. For instance, doctors recommend against taking vitamin K with blood thinners. If you’re currently on medication, like for Viagra, it’s best to consult your doctor before taking supplements.
It’s important also to note that vitamins are not an alternative to a healthy diet. While they can supplement your diet, there’s no alternative to healthy foods.
Talk To Your Doctor About Vitamin Supplements
If you’re considering taking vitamin supplements, you should prioritize your health and safety by consulting your primary care physician or a dietician. Vitamins are essential to our well-being, but supplements aren’t always necessary and can even cause more harm than good in some cases.
Only your doctor can determine whether you require vitamins and which supplements are safest and most effective for you based on your specific needs, diet, underlying health conditions, and existing medications.