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How to Chose the Best Vitamins

Sifting through the Choices: Which vitamins are Best?

Pharmacies throughout the world have been going through growing pains over the last several decades. When our grandparents went to the pharmacy, they chose from only a handful of different vitamins to supplement their diet. For children, there were a few chewable vitamins to pick from and for adults, even fewer choices existed. Most of these multivitamins were taken on the advice of their doctor who told them they "would feel better" if they took them. Today, your pharmacy likely has an entire aisle devoted to vitamins. The sheer number of vitamin options makes for confusion in even the most savvy customers.

To choose a vitamin or vitamins that are best for you, it helps to be clear on the reasons why you want to take them. Think about your situation and explore these possibilities:

Do you have a specific vitamin deficiency that your doctor wants you to correct?

  • Do you have a particular illness and your doctor has recommended a vitamin supplement to treat that illness?
  • Are you planning to take vitamins in the hopes of improving your general wellbeing?
  • Have you been told that a certain vitamin can help prevent an illness from developing in the future?

All of these are valid reasons to take vitamins. Choosing the best vitamin, however, takes a big more research. Let's explore the different ways that vitamins can be formulated and packaged in the hope that it becomes less confusing for you.

Many vitamins are sold as single vitamin sources, such as Vitamin E or Vitamin C. Vitamin E, for example, is believed to have an anti-oxidant property which means that it has the potential to reduce your risk of developing certain kinds of cancers. If this is all you are looking for, buying Vitamin E as a single ingredient makes sense. Similarly, if your doctor tells you that you have a Vitamin D deficiency, taking a single-source vitamin D preparation is likely all that is necessary.

A few vitamins are prepared using only a few ingredients. The B vitamins, for example, are commonly packaged as a complex. This is because they generally share physiological responsibilities and work together to maximize your metabolism. It makes sense to buy them as a complex. Calcium, which is not technically a vitamin, is almost always prepared and sold as a complex with Vitamin D. This is because your absorption of calcium depends on the presence of Vitamin D. Taking calcium without vitamin D can mean that you are not absorbing the calcium you have paid good money for.

Multivitamins have their place primarily for children or adults with highly unbalanced diets and for those who feel that a multivitamin will give them more energy and a sense of wellbeing.

Children's vitamins are easy. Once you find a vitamin whose taste they like and it has a proven track record, the rest involves reading the back label to make sure the vitamins within contain nearly 100% of the recommended daily allowances (RDA) for children. Make sure you review the absorption rate characteristics of the vitamins you are taking because with a higher absorption rate the RDA requirement appears to decrease. To understand this important absorption rate issue click here. The only exception to this is iron. Some parents prefer to have less than 50% RDA of iron in the vitamin because their children get adequate iron in their diet and too much iron from food and vitamin sources can lead to iron toxicity.

Adult vitamins today have increasingly become tailored to the specific needs of adults who differ from each other in several ways, including age and gender. There are vitamins for men, for women and for seniors. These multivitamins can even be tailored to the type of diet you're on. Most adult multivitamins have a long list of vitamins, mostly provided at 100% RDA. Senior versions are nearly identical except for the addition of more Vitamins E and D as well as lycopene for the prevention of heart disease. The brand you choose rarely matters as long as the labeling reflects nearly 100% RDA of the bulk of the vitamins. Certainly, some brands are better known than others and likely have labeling that is complete and accurate.

The Difference in Vitamins

Not all vitamins are the same. Before you purchase any vitamin, or multivitamins you need to understand the difference in how they are manufactured. To learn more about this important subject click here.

Is it risky to take vitamins? Generally, no. Your body takes from a vitamin supplement what it needs and discards the rest. The biggest exceptions are the fat-soluble vitamins , namely Vitamins A, E, K and D. These vitamins can build to toxic levels in your system, especially if you take a multivitamin along with another supplement containing even more of these fat soluble vitamins. Reading the labels is your best defense against this complication.

Vitamins are taking an increasing role in healthcare. More and more people are taking vitamin preparations every day. When making your own choices, keep in mind what you're looking to achieve and read all labels carefully before making your choice.