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Vitamins and supplements

Vitamins from Food

When we eat a balanced diet of protein, vegetables, fruit and complex carbohydrates, we get all of the necessary vitamins and minerals our bodies need to grow and function properly. But for various reasons, many of us turn to vitamins and supplements to make-up for what we don’t get at breakfast, lunch and dinner. And that’s OK. But you should understand how to choose what’s best for your health.

Your doctor is a good source for vitamin and supplement information. Talk to your doctor to find out if you need vitamins and supplements to stay healthy and to see if you may have any interactions with your prescription medications. Also, know that taking too many vitamins and supplements may be dangerous, so it's a good idea to ask your doctor before you start a vitamin and supplement program.

To help you understand how vitamins and supplements work, here are two often-asked questions answered:

How do vitamins and supplements work?
Vitamins are substances in foods and plants that make important reactions in your body happen, including making energy and healing wounds. After you swallow one, the active ingredients are released into your stomach and then pass through the small intestine where they are absorbed into the bloodstream.

Some people opt for the multi-vitamin, a nutritional supplement that combines different vitamins into one handy capsule or tablet. Unless your doctor tells you not to take one, they are safe for everyone. Follow the instructions on the package and don't take more than the directions suggest. But you may need a stronger dose of one special vitamin. There are 13 to choose from, including vitamins A, B, C and D.

Should I be cautious?
Read the label and take as indicated is a good rule to follow. Taking too much of a single vitamin can be as dangerous as taking too little. Too much vitamin A can harm your eyes, and too much vitamin D can injure your kidneys and harden soft heart tissue, for example. Vitamins can also react poorly with certain medications.

You might also be curious about supplements on the market that may provide you with energy, like ginseng. Or a fiber pill, for, well, adding more fiber to your diet and helping you keep regular. Whatever you think you may need, there’s probably a tablet out there for it. Again, please consult your doctor and research your options to find out if you need vitamins and supplements to stay healthy.


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