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Should You Swallow? The Vitamins and Supplements You Really Need

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How to Pick the Best Vitamin for You

Pick the Best Vitamin

With more varieties at the drugstore than lipstick shades, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. But don't eeny-meeny-miny-mo it. Look for a logo from the nonprofit group NSF International or from the United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), which certifies that you're getting exactly what the label advertises.

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Which vitamins, if any, do you need? Read on for expert recommendations tailored to your lifestyle.

If you are of childbearing age

Consider taking: A multi containing folic acid (400 micrograms) and iodine (150 micrograms)

Why it's crucial: About half of all pregnancies are unplanned, so having a steady level of folic acid and iodine, both essential to a developing fetus, is a must.

If you are on a calorie-restricted diet

Consider taking: A multi

Why it's crucial: If you eat less than 1,400 calories a day, you may fall short on the RDA for most vitamins and minerals.

If you are vegetarian or vegan

Consider taking: Vitamin B12 (2.4 micrograms) and zinc (8 milligrams)

Why it's crucial: Vital for red blood cell formation and cognitive function, these nutrients are naturally present mostly in animal foods. You may set yourself up for a deficiency when you nix or limit seafood, meat, and dairy.

If you are lactose intolerant or vegan

Consider taking: Calcium (500 milligrams twice a day)

Why it's crucial: Calcium is essential for bone health, yes, but many people who don't eat dairy get plenty of it from veggies like kale and broccoli as well as from fortified foods like cereal and milk substitutes. So you probably don't need the full recommended amount of 1,000 milligrams via supplement. Take only 500 milligrams or less at one time -- more than that may not be absorbed properly -- and choose calcium citrate with vitamin D, which helps your body absorb the calcium. (Vegans: D2 is plant-derived.)

If you have very heavy menstrual periods

Consider taking: Iron (18 milligrams)

Why it's crucial: Your body relies on iron to manufacture hemoglobin, a blood protein that shuttles oxygen from your lungs, but your level may get depleted during heavy periods. Up to 20 percent of U.S. women experience iron-deficiency anemia (symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, and difficulty concentrating).

If you live north of Atlanta and/or regularly wear sunscreen

Consider taking: Vitamin D (1,000 international units; the RDA is 600 international units)

Why it's crucial: Due to the angle of the sun in northern latitudes during the winter, your skin is unable to manufacture vitamin D from its rays for four to six months of the year. Wearing sunscreen, while important for preventing skin cancer, also blocks the vitamin's production.

If you eat fish less than twice a week

Consider taking: Omega-3 fatty acids (about 1,000 milligrams total of DHA and EPA, the types found in fish oil)

Why it's crucial: Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid, which means your body can't make it, so you need to get it from your diet. It's necessary for brain health, and recent studies suggest that it may also help relieve depression, anxiety, and muscle pain.

Sources: Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, the director of the Antioxidants Research Laboratory at Tufts University, and Mark Moyad, MD, the director of preventive and alternative medicine at the University of Michigan Medical Center

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, September 2012.


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8/8/2014 10:23:32 AM Report Abuse
meganp61820 wrote:

I have an auto immune diesease... if I do not take supplements I certainly do not get what I need from my food (and I eat very clean) as my body is not capable of storing high enough levels of iron (ferratin in fact), magnesium, b vitamins and calcium. At one point I was in such a state of malapsorption that I was 100lbs and very ill. I think that you must tread carefully when informing people that they should or should not as everyone has individual issues and needs.

6/4/2014 11:35:10 PM Report Abuse
Viki wrote:

Passionatefor1- nail on head. The author of this article had an agenda because there was no attempt to discern information and find truth in the information that was extrapolated. It is a shame that someone with no real knowledge, depends on their preconceived notions to be validated, instead of actually doing the work of a journalist.

4/17/2014 09:53:24 AM Report Abuse
pennyfrost72 wrote:

passionatefor1 you beat me to it, totally agree with you. Processed food is dead food. If supplements are not needed why do they put em in our cerial and bread? No enzymes in processsed food either. Next time you are feeling fatigued try a high quality multi vitamin and see ur energy come back, which is proof you need it and they work. I can't digest any of the junk I eat at restaurants without a broad spectrum enzyme supplement like No-Bloat (but I still go because I love to eat out :).

1/29/2013 08:07:24 PM Report Abuse
hmyrick4 wrote:

Far to many advertisements. At one time I had 4 ads piled on top of one another that I had to close to try to read the article. I closed the article before I finished reading because the ads kept popping up.

1/18/2013 07:37:43 AM Report Abuse

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