Probiotics: Skip Them The Science Isn’t Quite There Yet But Adding Yogurt And Fermented Foods To Your Diet Can Be Beneficial
The $38-billion probiotics industry hasn’t yet demonstrated that pills designed to support the good bacteria in your gut actually make a difference in any significant, measurable way.
Luckily, the ingredients that foster this good bacteria can be found naturally in yogurt and other fermented foods, so regularly noshing on these items may be of some help to your gut microbiome.
How Much Vitamin D Should You Take For Optimal Health
Adda Bjarnadottir, MS, RDN Kim Chin, RD
Vitamin D is essential for good health.
Its often referred to as the sunshine vitamin and is made in your skin when exposed to sunlight.
Despite that, vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world.
Up to 42% of the American adult population has low vitamin D levels, which can cause health problems (
Vitamin D is crucial for bone health and immune system function.
This article discusses how much vitamin D you need.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin thats involved in many essential body functions.
There are two forms of vitamin D in the diet and supplements:
- Vitamin D2 : found in some mushrooms.
- Vitamin D3 : found in oily fish, fish liver oil, and egg yolks.
D3 is the more powerful of the two types and raises vitamin D levels almost twice as much as D2 .
Significant amounts of vitamin D can also be made in your skin when exposed to UV rays from sunlight. Any excess vitamin D is stored in your body fat for later use.
Almost every cell in your body has a receptor for vitamin D. Its essential to many processes, including bone health, immune system function, and can help protect against cancer (
Fish Oil Supplements: Choose Fish Or Flaxseed Instead
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil has been touted as a means to reduce heart disease. However, more and more evidence shows that fish oil supplements have questionable heart benefits. A study published January 3, 2019, in The New England Journal of Medicine found that omega-3 fatty acid supplements did nothing to reduce heart attacks, strokes, or deaths from heart disease in middle-aged and older men and women without any known risk factors for cardiovascular disease. An earlier study, published in May 2013 in NEJM, looked at people at high risk for cardiovascular disease and also reported no benefit.
According to the NIH, omega-3 deficiency is very rare in the United States. Still, many people fail to consume enough omega-3s daily for optimal health. The best way to get adequate amounts is by eating a variety of foods that are rich in them, including:
- Fish and other seafood, especially cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines
- Nuts and seeds, such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts
- Plant oils, such as flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil
- Fortified foods, such as certain brands of eggs, yogurt, juices, milk, and soy beverages
You May Like: What Vitamins Does A Woman Over 50 Need
A Closer Look At Water
Water-soluble vitamins are packed into the watery portions of the foods you eat. They are absorbed directly into the bloodstream as food is broken down during digestion or as a supplement dissolves.
Because much of your body consists of water, many of the water-soluble vitamins circulate easily in your body. Your kidneys continuously regulate levels of water-soluble vitamins, shunting excesses out of the body in your urine.
- Folic acid
Why Should Seniors Take Vitamin Supplements
There are several reasons why older adults should take vitamins.
- An older body is less efficient at absorbing key nutrients from food.
- Certain healthy vitamin-rich foods can become difficult to chew or digest as we age.
- Our bones become more brittle as we age, and certain vitamin supplements can also give us a much-needed calcium boost.
- Older adults may not get as much sunlight exposure as they once did, which causes Vitamin D levels to wane.
- Medications, especially diuretics, can flush out nutrients before they can be properly absorbed by the body or block them from being absorbed at all.
- Age-related diseases and conditions can suppress the bodys ability to absorb nutrients, and some may even require a special diet that is low on certain vitamins and nutrients.
- Older adults may not cook as often as they once did, and ready-to-eat meals can rob you of essential vitamins and nutrients.
Read Also: Where Can I Get Vitamin C Powder
What The Experts Do
Healthy Food Instead of Supplements
I dont take any supplements routinely, says Larry Appel, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research. I try to eat three healthy meals a day to get the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients I need. How he does it:
- Plenty of produce. I aim for two or more servings of fruits or vegetables at every meal, he says. I enjoy salads and have one for lunch or dinner several times a week.
- Low-fat dairy and whole grains. Low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt provide calcium, magnesium, potassium and other nutrients, he says. I have cereal with milk for breakfast a few times a week. And I have yogurt sometimes too.
- Protein. At home we usually have fish or chicken for dinner. I am not a vegetarian rather, I eat minimal meat, Appel says. Some fish, such as salmon, are a good source of healthful omega-3 fatty acids.
How Much Is Too Much
Because high doses of some supplements can have risks, how do you know when it’s OK to take more than the RDA or DV?
One way is to look for the UL of a nutrient. With many vitamins and minerals, you can safely take a dose much higher than the RDA or DV without coming close to the UL.
For instance, the average person can take more than 50 times the RDA of vitamin B6 without reaching the upper limit. But some people develop symptoms of nerve pain with these higher levels of B6. So you should always be cautious. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Some supplements are riskier than others. With some vitamins and minerals, the upper limit is pretty close to the RDA. So it’s easy to get too much. For example, a man who takes just over three times the RDA of vitamin A would get more than the upper limit. High doses of vitamin A — and other fat-soluble vitamins like E and K — can build up in the body and become toxic. Other risky supplements include the minerals iron and selenium.
Supplementsare designed to be additions to your diet.Popping pills is not the answer to good health. Experts say you should eat a well-balanced diet and take supplements to fill in any nutritional gaps. Some people take a multivitamin with minerals for nutritional insurance.
Recommended Reading: What Vitamins Are Good For Acne Prone Skin
Folate And Folic Acid
Why you need it Folate is a general term thats used to describe the many different forms of vitamin B9. Vitamin B9 is one of the eight B vitamins. Its important in red blood cell formation and for healthy cell growth and function. And its particularly important for women to ingest folate during the first three weeks of pregnancy to prevent birth defects.
Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate that is used in supplements and in fortified foods.
How to get it It can be difficult for some to get the daily recommended amount of folate through foods alone. Keep in mind that many of us are still not getting enough fruits, vegetables and legumes our best sources for folate, Ilic says. Increasing your daily consumption can be easier than you think, though.
You can get more folate naturally simply by increasing your intake of these foods:
- Leafy green vegetables.
- Fruits especially citrus fruits, melons and strawberries.
- Fruit juice .
- Legumes such as dried beans, lentils and peas.
Because we needed extra help in getting the full amount of folate and folic acid in our diets, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration also requires that folic acid be added to enrich the following foods .
- Certain breads.
- Other grain products .
The Top 10 Vitamins That Everyone Should Include In Their Diet
Here are the main vitamins you should be concerned with and what to add to your diet to make sure you’re getting enough. Learn more.
If you’re focused on aesthetic results such as losing body fat or increasing the amount of lean muscle tissue you have on your body, taking care of your total calorie, carb, protein, and dietary fat intake will be essential. It is these nutrients that will determine how your body composition changes as time goes on.
It’s important to realize though that simply watching your calories and the major macronutrients will not necessarily promote overall good health. For that, you need to look at the micronutrients commonly referred to as vitamins and minerals.
Making sure you’re meeting your daily requirements in these nutrients will also be important to promote proper body functioning, keeping your energy levels up, and to fight off disease and infection.
You need to look at the micronutrients commonly referred to as vitamins and minerals.
Here are the main vitamins you should be concerned with and what to add to your diet to make sure you’re getting enough.
You May Like: How To Get Vitamin D To Absorb Better
St Johns Wort: Avoid Drug Interactions
St. Johns wort is a plant used as a tea or in capsules to treat mild depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. Small studies have shown St. Johns wort to be effective at treating mild depression. For example, a review published March 2017 in the Journal of Affective Disorders looked at of 27 clinical trials with a total of 3,808 patients and concluded that the herbal remedy worked as well as certain antidepressants at decreasing symptoms of mild to moderate depression.
But, says Denise Millstine, MD, an internist in the department of integrative medicine at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona, The biggest issue with St. Johns wort is its medication interactions.
A study published in July 2014 in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that 28 percent of the time St. Johns wort was prescribed between 1993 and 2010, it was administered in dangerous combinations with antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication, statins, the blood-thinning drug warfarin, or oral contraceptives. For example, combining St. Johns wort with an antidepressant can cause serious complications, including a life-threatening increase in the brain chemical serotonin, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
Advice For Infants And Young Children
The Department of Health and Social Care recommends that babies from birth to 1 year of age should have a daily supplement containing 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D throughout the year if they are:
- formula-fed and are having less than 500ml of infant formula a day, as infant formula is already fortified with vitamin D
Children aged 1 to 4 years old should be given a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D throughout the year.
You can buy vitamin D supplements or vitamin drops containing vitamin D at most pharmacies and supermarkets.
Women and children who qualify for the Healthy Start scheme can get free supplements containing vitamin D.
See the Healthy Start website for more information.
Don’t Miss: How Long Does It Take To Restore Vitamin D Levels
Still Wondering What Vitamins You Should Take Try Our Simple Approach To Finding Personalized Vitamins And Supplements For Your Unique Health Goals
Almost everyone has some experience with vitamins, even if the last ones you took were shaped like a cartoon family. However, with thousands of products on the market, the process of choosing the right vitamins and supplements can be overwhelming. The process is made even more complicated by contradicting information and misleading advertising. You know there is a way to improve your long-term health, but how can you make sure you are taking the right vitamins and supplements?
The key is to know what essential vitamins and nutrients to look out for, to carefully assess your diet, and to consider how your lifestyle and long-term health goals come into play. Remember that vitamins and supplements are not meant to replace a healthy diet. Beyond nutrients, fresh fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fiber, all of which are important.
Carefully Assess Your Diet Based On Widely
The US Food and Drug Administration sets a Recommended Daily Intake for the essential nutrients to help people manage their nutrition.
The RDI is simply how much of each nutrient is needed each day for healthy adults. It is typically measured and listed using one of three different units: milligrams , micrograms , or international units . The nutrition labels on foods will list the nutrients they contain, as well as the percentage of your RDI for each particular nutrient.
This information is helpful to ensure that you are not consuming too much or too little of any nutrient in a given day.
One way to figure out what vitamins and supplements to take is to look carefully at the nutritional value of all the foods in your diet and see how close you come to the RDI recommended by the FDA for each essential vitamin and mineral.
If you have a diet thats particularly low or high in certain foods, you could be getting too much or too little of certain nutrients. For example, vitamin B12 is commonly found in non-vegetarian food sources, so if youre a vegetarian, you may be getting less than the RDI of that vitamin.
If the RDI represents the low end of the amount you need for a particular nutrient, then the UL represents the high end. It is only advisable to begin taking a supplement if you are confident that you are not presently meeting the RDI and unlikely to exceed the UL.
Ready to start your personalized routine?
Recommended Reading: How To Check Vitamin D Levels At Home
Supplements Every Woman Should Take Say Doctors
In modern life, one thing is clear: We could all use more support. And we don’t just mean from your girlfriends.
According to a meta-analysis of studies done by Oregon State University, three-quarters of Americans aren’t eating the daily recommended amount of fruit, and 80 percent don’t have enough vegetables. That means we’re not getting enough essential vitamins from our food.
In addition to adding healthier foods to your shopping list, nutritional supplements can help fill in the gaps. We asked the experts which ones every woman should add to her daily routine. Read on to find out moreand to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.
Kava: Overuse Can Harm Your Liver
Kava is an herb that in concentrated forms has been used to treat general anxiety disorder with some success. An Australian study published online in 2015 in the journal Trials found that the South Pacific plant can be an effective alternative treatment to prescription medication for people diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder . An earlier, smaller study, published in October 2013 in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, also showed that taking kava significantly reduced anxiety compared with a placebo in people with GAD.
However, taking too much kava, or taking it for too long, has been linked to serious liver damage, including hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure. As a result, according to the NIH, the FDA has warned that people, especially those with liver disease or liver problems, or those who are taking drugs that can affect the liver, should talk to their healthcare practitioner before using kava. In addition, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health reports that heavy consumption of kava has been associated with heart problems and eye irritation.
You May Like: How Much Vitamin C Per Day When Sick
Soy Isolate: Careful With The Estrogen
Tofu, tempeh, and soy milk are all good , fiber, and a number of minerals. Some women also take soy in supplement form because the plant contains estrogen-like compounds called isoflavones that may help relieve symptoms of menopause. However, concerns have been raised that the isoflavones in soy supplements may contribute to an increased risk of breast cancer.
The good news is that large-scale studies have not shown any increased breast cancer risk from eating whole soy foods, such as tofu and edamame, according to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
In fact, at least one study, published March 6, 2017, in the journal Cancer, which looked at 6,235 breast cancer survivors, linked eating the equivalent of one serving of soybeans a week to a 21 percent lower risk of death from all causes during the nearly 10-year follow-up period.
But not enough research has been done on soy protein isolate the powder formed by removing the protein from the rest of the plant to know its effect on breast cancer risk, Millstine says.
The bottom line: If youre concerned about breast cancer, stay away from soy supplements and soy-based protein, Millstine advises. Soy intake from foods has not been shown to be of concern though.
What Happens If I Take Too Much Vitamin D
Taking too many vitamin D supplements over a long period of time can cause too much calcium to build up in the body . This can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and the heart.
If you choose to take vitamin D supplements, 10 micrograms a day will be enough for most people.
Do not take more than 100 micrograms of vitamin D a day as it could be harmful. This applies to adults, including pregnant and breastfeeding women and the elderly, and children aged 11 to 17 years.
Children aged 1 to 10 years should not have more than 50 micrograms a day. Infants under 12 months should not have more than 25 micrograms a day.
Some people have medical conditions that mean they may not be able to safely take as much. If in doubt, you should consult your doctor.
If your doctor has recommended you take a different amount of vitamin D, you should follow their advice.
You cannot overdose on vitamin D through exposure to sunlight. But always remember to cover up or protect your skin if you’re out in the sun for long periods to reduce the risk of skin damage and skin cancer.
Page last reviewed: 03 August 2020 Next review due: 03 August 2023
You May Like: What Foods Give You Vitamin B