Vitamins are organic compounds that our bodies use in small amounts for many important processes. Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet can usually obtain all the necessary vitamins we need to stay healthy. Unfortunately, however, people often don’t normally consume enough vitamins in the food they eat on a regular basis, or have certain medical conditions which causes them to have vitamin deficiencies. This introduces the need for vitamin supplements, which allows someone to have all the vitamins they need to stay healthy and correct vitamin deficiencies.
Groups of people who are at risk for vitamin deficiencies, or who could particularly benefit from vitamin supplements include:
- Pregnant Women
- Women who are breastfeeding
- Excessive alchohol drinkers
- Tobacco users
- Illegal drug users
- People on chronic low-calorie diets
- The elderly, especially those who are chronically ill or disabled
- People who live sedentary lifestyles
- People with food allergies
- People with malabsorption problems
It is important to understand that obtaining vitamins from food is always best, and that taking vitamin supplements is not a substitute for a healthy diet. Vitamins are synthetic, and although they are made to have the same properties as real vitamins, research has shown that vitamin supplements are often not as effective as real vitamins found in food. In addition to minerals, food also tends to contain minerals and phytochemicals, which all work together to complete other important processes to help the body stay healthy.
It should also be understood that vitamin supplements should be thought of as a short-term measure. Long-term use of some vitamin supplements, such as A, D, E, K, and B6 can even lead to toxicity. If you suspect you may be lacking certain vitamins on a regular basis it may be wiser to change your diet and lifestyle rather than relying on supplements.