Vitamins: the ins and outs

It seems like every time you visit the doctor you are told to take another pill. After so many visits you are downing pills left and right. After not feeling well, I assumed my doctor would whip out her handy script pad to write me out a prescription and she surprised me instead. No prescriptions for me. Over the counter vitamins should do the trick.

But what do we really know about vitamins? How much do you need? When you should find supplements and how much is enough? If you have big questions about vitamins, check with your doctor. Health insurance companies, including those with self employed health insurance, can get an annual visit covered to discuss your vitamin intake, among other things.

Vitamins are a tricky thing. While prescription drugs are regulated federally, vitamins are not. Simply that means that vitamins are not made equally, which means they should be taken with extra caution and consultation from a doctor.

One senior male I was talking with the other day mentioned he was taking women’s vitamins. Was that bad, he asked me. Or can you overdose on vitamins?

The most popular vitamins for a women to take are omega-3s, calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is one of the most important and often forgotten vitamins. The purest and most ideal form of calcium is found in milk, but with an increase of lactose intolerance, the need to find calcium in other places has become especially prevalent. Young women especially need to focus on their calcium intake to build strong bones before menopause. Vitamin D, often associated with sunshine, is mostly found through sunlight. However, during the cold and dark winter months our supply of vitamin D is often depleted which can affect us physically and mentally. (Ever heard of the winter blues?) Consult with your doctor about how much vitamin D supplements you should take.

Women looking to conceive or those who are already pregnant should be especially concerned with vitamins. Essentially, your baby gets all of its nutrients from what you eat. Not getting enough vitamin c? Neither will your baby. Doctor encourage young mothers to begin taking prenatal vitamins shortly before they get pregnant or right after. Folate is one of the most needed vitamins a pregnant woman can take. Folate or folic acid aids in the development of your baby while protecting against birth defects. While a majority of pregnancies are unplanned, taking prenatal vitamins early enough can be hard. If you are sexually active, start eating foods with folic acid now to ensure your body has the right nutrients.

After a doctor’s inspiration on what vitamins you should take, hit the store. Look for reputable brands that have a long standing reputation for quality products. Vitamins should be no frill (sorry, no teddy bear shaped vitamins for you) and with the fewest amount of additives. Ditch vitamins that have a long list of ingredients, especially those with caffeine. Vitamins should be simple and pure.