Vitamins are organic substances – or groups of related substances – found in many foods. They have specific biochemical functions and are generally not made in the body (or not in sufficient quantity for good health).
They are essential nutrients that are needed in very small quantities to maintain good health. The effects of vitamins are better known than deficiency syndromes, many of which are life-threatening.
The amount of these nutrients needed for good health can easily be obtained through a sensible diet and adequate exposure to sunlight.
6 Myths About Vitamins
Myth 1: Everyone should take vitamin supplements daily to be healthy or for precautionary reasons
Certain vitamins and minerals are used to treat or prevent certain specific health problems, for example, folic acid for pregnant women or iron supplements for people with anemia, or iron deficiency.
However, research has not shown that there is an advantage for healthy people who eat well to take vitamin supplements, for example, to prevent colds or fatigue.
We advise everyone to meet all their needs for vitamins and minerals only by dietary intake, eating a variety of foods that are processed as little as possible and come from each of the food groups. It is recommended that these vitamins and minerals come from your diet, as they also come with other essential nutrients such as fiber and protein.
Myth 2: I do not need to watch what I eat as soon as I take vitamins
Just because you take vitamin and mineral supplements does not mean that you can eat badly. An unbalanced diet, in addition to possibly being low in minerals and vitamins, can also be high in fat, sugar or salt, which can lead to many health problems.
While vitamin or mineral supplements can make up for some of the nutritional deficiencies, they do not offset the negative effects of poor nutrition on your health.
Myth 3: People who constantly eat the same foods definitely need vitamins
Before choosing supplements, it is important to take the time to analyze your diet. Even if your diet is not very varied, provided it includes all food groups, it can still provide all of your nutritional requirements.
A deficiency does not occur until your body has depleted all its reserves, and in fact, your body has several weeks or months of vitamin stores. Unless your diet is severely deficient, you do not need to take supplements.
The best way to determine if something is missing from your diet is to consult a registered dietitian, who can provide you with personalized advice to help you meet your nutritional requirements.
If, despite your best efforts, your vitamin and mineral requirements are not yet met, you may need to consider taking supplements.
Myth 4: If I take vitamin or iron supplements, I can regain my lost energy
Low energy is often a sign of an unhealthy lifestyle (sedentary lifestyle, anxiety, sleep disturbance) or accumulation of fatigue. In this case, a vitamin or iron supplement will not affect your energy level.
Supplements may be recommended when lack of energy is associated with a deficiency, for example anemia caused by a lack of iron. Only a doctor can diagnose you with a deficiency and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
Myth 5: Vitamins and supplements are completely harmless
Although essential for good health, vitamin and mineral supplements are not completely safe. When taken for a long time or in a dose that is too high, some supplements of vitamins and minerals can accumulate in the body and have detrimental effects on your health. Children and older adults are at particular risk for vitamin overdoses, as their organs, which are responsible for processing and eliminating supplements, do not always function to their full potential.
To avoid these conditions, talk to your pharmacist.
Myth 6: I do not need to tell my pharmacist that I am taking dietary supplements or vitamins
Some vitamins and minerals can either reduce or enhance the effect of some prescription or over-the-counter medications and may even be contraindicated if you have health problems.
Tell your pharmacist if you are taking supplements of vitamins or minerals.
Registered dietitians are suitable to analyze your diet in detail and make personalized suggestions for you. Some pharmacies offer consulting services with a registered dietitian. Ask your pharmacy.
If you need to take a supplement, your pharmacist will be there to suggest the product that best suits your needs.