When to Take Vitamin Supplements?

Vitamin supplements can help us meet the requirements of our body when diet alone doesn't provide the necessary micronutrients.
When to Take Vitamin Supplements?

Last update: 23 January, 2023

Our body needs vitamins and minerals to be able to perform all its functions correctly. All of them have some specific role. Normally, we obtain vitamins and minerals from our diet. But if it’s not possible to cover all the needs of our body, we can take vitamin supplements. With these, we’ll be able to complete the necessary requirements.

What are vitamin supplements?

Vitamin supplements are complementary products to the diet that contain vitamins and usually minerals. Colloquially, we also know them as multivitamins, or we may simply call them vitamins.

The vitamins and minerals that are part of the composition of vitamin supplements have important functions in our body. Therefore, the lack of any of them could cause health problems.

Types of vitamin supplements

Types of vitamin supplements.

We can find an infinity of vitamin supplements in pharmacies and currently, they can also be found in supermarkets and even on the internet.

In addition, if we need to take vitamin supplements, we can find them both in capsules and in drinkable formulas, whether they’re effervescent tablets or gel caps.

There are different types, although the most common are those in whose composition we can observe all or almost all vitamins (A, C, D, E, K, and eight types of the vitamin B group) and minerals.

In addition, we can take vitamin supplements that are formulated for a more specific indication. Some of these indications may be, for example, for:

  • Increasing performance and/or energy
  • Improving weight control
  • Boosting the body’s immunity
  • Strengthening the hair and nails

In this case, all of them usually contain some compound in addition to vitamins and/or minerals in their formulation. They’re usually supplemented with plant extracts.

What effect does taking vitamin supplements have?

A woman laughing.

Multivitamins are becoming more and more common as part of our diet. We take these supplements for various reasons, usually aimed at promoting good health and reducing the risk of developing diseases.

One of the goals of vitamin supplements is an increased intake of micronutrients. That is, they help us cover the recommended amount of vitamins and minerals for the optimal functioning of our body.

This recommended intake is usually met by maintaining a healthy, varied, and balanced diet. But, on certain occasions, it can be beneficial to supplement the diet by taking vitamin supplements.

For example, if we’re sick, if we go through times of physical and/or mental stress, or seasons in which we eat worse. And, in general, for anyone who finds it difficult to cover the necessary intake due to different factors.

Should I take a vitamin supplement?

Vitamin supplements can complement our daily diet, but they should never replace it. You’ll be able to verify that on the leaflet or information document of the supplement, it usually mentions something similar to the following: This nutritional supplement does not replace a varied diet.

Fruits, vegetables, and vitamin supplements.

Therefore, it’s important to know that they can’t replace the nutrients in the food that a balanced diet offers us. In addition, some of them are dispensed under medical prescription, for example:

  • Vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D regulates calcium metabolism and is very important for healthy bones and teeth. It’s usually recommended during pregnancy, lactation, in people over 65 years of age, and in those who have little exposure to the sun.
  • Folic acid: This is recommended in women who want to become pregnant and also during the first weeks of pregnancy. It’s taken to prevent defects in the development of the fetus such as spina bifida.

Recommendations for the use of vitamin supplements

The recommended dose of each food supplement is marked on each container. They usually contain a quantity of vitamins that’s close to the recommended daily allowance.

It’s usually referenced on the packaging by the letters NRV, which stands for Nutrient Reference Value, for the general population. Therefore, the recommended dose on the package or package insert shouldn’t be exceeded.

Normally, the doses of vitamin supplements are considered safe, although taken in large amounts and chronically, they could cause some undesired effects.

The vitamins of groups A, D, E, and K could accumulate in our body, as they’re part of the group of fat-soluble vitamins.

On the other hand, this shouldn’t happen with the other types of vitamins, which are water-soluble. In this case, our body absorbs what it needs and eliminates the rest. However, an excess of vitamin C could cause abdominal pain and diarrhea.

In addition, as we’ve discussed previously, taking vitamin supplements complements a healthy and balanced diet, but isn’t a substitute for it.

In short, taking vitamin supplements can sometimes help us complete our diet, if it’s deficient in any of them, and thus help keep our body healthy.

  • García A. Los requerimientos de vitaminas A, D y E. In: Enfermedades metabólicas. 2015.
  • Martínez Suárez V, Moreno Villares JM, Dalmau Serra J. Recomendaciones de ingesta de calcio y vitamina D: posicionamiento del Comité de Nutrición de la Asociación Española de Pediatría. An Pediatr. 2012;77(1).
  • National Institutes of Health – Office of Dietary Supplements. Datos sobre los suplementos multivitamínicos/minerales. 2017;4. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/pdf/factsheets/MVMS-DatosEnEspanol.pdf

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