Supplements and vitamins can be very helpful in preserving overall health and fitness. It’s crucial to remember, though, that they shouldn’t be taken as an alternative to a balanced diet and regular exercise. Adults in the UK should be capable to obtain all the vitamins and minerals they require by eating a varied and balanced diet, according to the National Health Service (NHS). However, certain individuals may require extra supplements. These persons include pregnant and breastfeeding women and people who are older than 65 and have certain medical issues.

Vitamins & supplements: Are they the same?

Vitamins and supplements are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing.

The body needs vitamins in modest amounts in order to operate effectively. They can be found naturally in meals including whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Vitamins must be received from diet or supplements because the body is unable to produce them on its own.

Examples of vitamins include vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K.

On the other hand, supplements are products that are meant to add to a diet. A wide range of components, including vitamins, minerals, herbs, and amino acids, can be found in them. There are many different types of supplements, including pills, capsules, powders, and liquids.

While vitamins are essential for the body to function properly, supplements are not always necessary. However, in specific medical conditions doctors and chemists recommend them to improve their health.

What do vitamins do?

Vitamins are vital micronutrients that the body needs in small amounts to function properly. They are involved in various bodily functions, such as growth, development, and maintaining overall health and wellness.

Here are some examples of what some of the key vitamins do for the body:

  • Vitamin A: helps to maintain healthy vision, skin, and immune function.
  • Vitamin B complex: helps to convert food into energy, maintain healthy skin and nerves, and support a healthy immune system.
  • Vitamin C: helps to form collagen, which is necessary for healthy skin, blood vessels, and bones. It also helps to absorb iron from plant-based foods and boosts the immune system.
  • Vitamin D: helps the body to absorb calcium and maintain strong bones and teeth. It also plays a role in the immune system and helps to regulate the growth and development of cells.
  • Vitamin E: acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect the body’s cells from damage. It also helps to maintain healthy skin and eyes.
  • Vitamin K: helps to form blood clots, which is necessary for controlling bleeding.

What do supplements do?

Almost everything should be included in enough amounts in a diversified diet that includes carbs, a range of fruits and vegetables, beans and pulses, and high-quality sources of protein such as meat, fish, eggs, or vegetarian and vegan alternatives. If you take a balanced and healthy diet, there would be no need to take any supplements. However, in some circumstances, vitamin deficiency might happen, in those cases taking a vitamin supplement will assist return nutrient levels to a normal range. Here are some examples of certain groups of people that may need to take additional supplements:

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women, as they have higher nutritional needs to support the growth and development of their babies. Commonly, folic acid is suggested for pregnant women for 12 weeks of pregnancy as it helps in forming DNA.
  • People over the age of 65, as they may be at a higher risk of nutrient deficiencies.
  • Those with certain medical conditions, such as anaemia or osteoporosis.
  • Vegetarians and vegans, as they may be at a higher risk of certain nutrient deficiencies such as Vitamin B12, iron, and calcium.

It can be said that the supplements help those who have vitamin deficiency due to any possible reason. However, it is necessary for everyone to take advice from healthcare providers, doctors, or authentic pharmacies before taking any supplement.

Do vitamins or supplements have side effects?

Like any other type of medication, vitamins and supplements can have unwanted consequences. The particular product, the dosage, and the particular person will all affect how likely and severe the side effects are.

It’s crucial to remember that while vitamins and supplements are often thought to be safe when taken as directed, adverse effects are still possible. The following are a few typical adverse effects of vitamins and supplements:

  • Nausea: When taking specific vitamins or supplements, some people may feel nausea or stomach trouble.
  • Headaches: Some people who take particular vitamins or supplements, especially in high dosages, may develop headaches as a side effect.
  • Allergic reactions: Some people may experience adverse responses to particular vitamins or supplements’ components, such as gluten or shellfish.
  • Medication interactions: Before beginning to take any new supplements, it is important to check with a healthcare expert, such as a doctor or pharmacist. Some vitamins and supplements may interfere with other drugs you are taking.

When taking vitamins or supplements, it’s important to read the label and adhere to the suggested amount. Some vitamins can be dangerous in excess; for instance, large quantities of vitamins A and D can cause toxicity.

In summary, while vitamins and supplements can be beneficial, they should not replace a healthy diet and lifestyle. Most of the essential nutrients and vitamins can be acquired from a balanced diet. Supplements are intended to complement the diet and provide additional nutrients when a person’s diet may be lacking in certain nutrients. It’s important to consult with healthcare professionals before taking any new supplements, particularly if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have a medical condition. Moreover, in order to avoid any side effects and negative consequences, it is recommended to always read the label, follow the guidance of dosage, be cautious when buying supplements online and always check the safety and quality of the product.

Please note: Advice and opinions in this article are not that of Medicine Drop. You should always consult your pharmacist or GP directly should you have any health related questions or concerns.

 

References

https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/food-and-diet/do-i-need-vitamin-supplements/

https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/keeping-well/vitamins-supplements-and-nutrition/#:~:text=Folic%20acid%20before%20and%20during,tube%20defects%2C%20including%20spina%20bifida.

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/

https://www.eufic.org/en/vitamins-and-minerals