Why Take A Supplement
Speaking with our experts, we found that they agree there are plenty of groups of people who could benefit from a supplement regimen. “With a huge increase in chronic disease and ill health, medication use, and poor dietary choices, we are seeing many individuals lacking basic nutrition from food,” says nutritionist Amanda Henham of Vaga Nutrition. “Therefore a need to supplement while implementing small and incremental healthy changes may be required.”
Dr. Scott Schreiber, a rehabilitation specialist, explains to his patients that it may not be possible to receive all our vitamins from food because of the soil they’re grown in. “With the current state of our soil, I recommend a combination of organic whole foods and a daily multivitamin supplement.” Registered dietitian Danielle Omar agrees. “Farmland soil is depleted of important vitamins and trace minerals, and our food sometimes travels thousands of miles to reach us,” she says. “So once that kale reaches your dinner table, it may be well over a week old and vital nutrients are quickly dissipating.”
The following slides provide details on certain crucial vitamins you need to consume every day. After you get through the list of vitamins, keep reading! We’ll answer some burning questions about which foods to eat to get certain vitamins, as well as why sometimes food isn’t enough.
Dietary Sources Of B Vitamins
B vitamins are found primarily in animal food sources and fortified cereals. But many vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes contain some amount of B vitamins as well. Here’s a look at the common food sources. You’ll note that many of the foods overlap with other B vitamins.
- B1 : Fortified breakfast cereal, enriched and whole-grain products , wheat germ, pork, trout, black beans, mussels, and tuna
- B2 : Milk and dairy products, fortified breakfast cereals, beef liver, clams, portobello mushrooms, almonds, and chicken
- B3 : Eggs, fish, fortified bread and cereal, rice, nuts, milk and dairy, chicken, beef, turkey, lamb, organ meats, peanuts
- B5 :Meat, avocado, broccoli, kale, eggs, milk, mushrooms, fortified cereals, organ meats, poultry, potatoes, and legumes
- B6 :Chickpeas, beef liver, tuna, salmon, chicken breast, fortified breakfast cereal, potatoes, turkey, fruits , and beef
- B7 :Beef liver, egg yolk, wheat germ, pork, beef, sunflower seeds, sweet potato, almonds, whole-grain foods, sardines, spinach, and broccoli
- B9 :Spinach, beef liver, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, beans and legumes, asparagus, orange juice, peanuts, avocado, dark leafy greens, fortified cereals, and salmon
- B12 :Beef liver , clams and other shellfish, beef, chicken, fish, eggs, milk and other dairy products, and some fortified cereals
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Can Be Sneaky Harmful
- By Harvard Health Publishing Staff, Harvard Health
What harm can having too little of vitamin B12 do? Consider this: Over the course of two months, a 62-year-old man developed numbness and a “pins and needles” sensation in his hands, had trouble walking, experienced severe joint pain, began turning yellow, and became progressively short of breath. The cause was lack of vitamin B12 in his bloodstream, according to a case report from Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital published in The New England Journal of Medicine. It could have been worsea severe vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to deep depression, paranoia and delusions, memory loss, incontinence, loss of taste and smell, and more.
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What Happens If You Get Too Much Vitamin B Complex
Youre unlikely to get too much vitamin B complex from your diet. Thats because B complex vitamins are water soluble. That means they arent stored in your body but are excreted in your urine daily.
Youre also unlikely to get too much vitamin B if youre taking any supplementation as directed.
That said, overdose is possible especially if youre taking a supplement without receiving a deficiency diagnosis from your doctor.
Symptoms of a vitamin B complex overdose include:
- excessive thirst
Take Vitamin B5 For Healthy Hormones
All people age 14 and older should get 5 mg of vitamin B5 each day, according to the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine. You can find vitamin B5 in vegetables of the cabbage family, such as broccoli and kale, as well as in avocado. In addition, whole-grain cereals, potatoes, dairy, and organ meats are good sources. This type of B vitamin is needed for many of the biochemical reactions that go on in our cells each day, including the breakdown of carbohydrates and lipids for energy. Because it’s a water-soluble vitamin, you need vitamin B5 in your diet every day. Pantothenic acid is necessary for our bodies to produce hormones, and it’s also needed for growth.
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Protection From Air Pollution
The researchers hope their findings may lead to new measures to prevent epigenetic changes that can result from exposure to air pollution.
of people in the United States take vitamin supplements containing vitamin B6. Supplements are available in capsule or tablet form.
Most people of all ages in the U.S. consume sufficient B6 and do not require supplements.
Those who are more likely to have low levels of B6 include:
- people who drink excess alcohol
- people with obesity
- people who are pregnant or breastfeeding
There is no evidence of any adverse effect from consuming too much vitamin B6 in food.
However, evidence has shown that taking between of oral pyridoxine a day for 12 to 40 months may be linked with severe, progressive sensory neuropathy and a loss of control of body movement.
The 2015 to 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
Always Talk With A Professional
While the nutritionists we spoke to agree that supplements can be helpful, it’s important to always talk with your healthcare provider before jumping in with a vitamin regimen. Most vitamin supplements contain 100 percent of the recommended daily amount, so if you’re already consuming a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables throughout the day, you would be taking in way more than the National Institutes of Health recommends.
Unfortunately when it comes to vitamins, you really can have too much of a good thing.
According to the National Institutes of Health, a meta-analysis of studies looking at more than 400,000 people found that a daily vitamin supplement was associated with an increased cancer risk. A separate study of women found that a daily supplement was linked to an increased risk for skin cancer.
Taking vitamin A supplements with beta-carotene has been proven to increase the risk of lung cancer in study participants. In one study, the increased risk was a whopping 28 percent, which caused the researchers to actually end the study early.
Calcium supplements have not been proven to improve bone density. In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that participants taking a daily calcium supplement were more likely to suffer a hip fracture.
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Foods With B Vitamins
Although B vitamins are naturally found in many foods, they are easily destroyed by alcohol and cooking. Food processing also strips foods of their B vitamin content, especially in white flour, white bread, and white rice.
Because your body cant store all of the B-group vitamins, its important that you continuously get them through your diet. Here are five foods that are high in B vitamins:
1. Whole Grains
Because food processing removes nutrients from grains, you want to eat whole grains that have not undergone this process. Grains high in B vitamins include:
- Brown rice
Vitamin B: What Is It Good For
The eight B vitamins are necessary for nearly every process within the body. They help turn food into energy and affect the health of our nervous system, metabolism, organs, muscles, skin, and hair. Theyre also essential for cell growth, development, and overall functioning. As such, they offer serious benefits to skin health, since our skin is constantly regenerating. The healthier your skin, the faster it renews.
However, weve got a relatively small storage tank for B vitamins, which means we need to keep refilling it each day. Since each B vitamin impacts skin health differently, its helpful to know which foods provide what vitamins, and the role each vitamin plays in the body.
So How Much B12 Do I Need
Your B12 needs depend largely on your age and whether you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Women who are 14 years old and up generally need about 2.4 micrograms of B12 a day, according to the NIH. If you’re pregnant, your needs go up to 2.6 micrograms a day, while you’ll need 2.8 micrograms a day if you’re breastfeeding, the organization says.
To help put that into perspective, one cup of low-fat milk contains 1.2 micrograms of B12, while some fortified breakfast cereals have up to six micrograms. So essentially, you should be able to get more than your daily recommended intake just by having a bowl of cereal with milk for breakfast.
Recommended Daily Values Of Vitamin B12
The amount of Vitamin B12 that you need depends on your lifestyle, age, and other factors.
The recommended dietary allowance for Vitamin B12 is listed below:
- Newborns to 6 months: 0.4 mcg
- Infants 6 months to 1 year: 0.5 mcg
- Children 1 to 3 years: 0.9 mcg
- Children 4 to 8 years: 1.2 mcg
- Children 9 to 13 years: 1.8 mcg
- Teens 14 to 18 years: 2.4 mcg
- 19 years and older: 2.4 mcg
- Pregnant women: 2.6 mcg
- Breastfeeding women: 2.8 mcg
Some older adults may not be able to absorb Vitamin B12 from food efficiently.
Adults over the age of 50 may need to meet their daily requirement through foods fortified with Vitamin B12 or through a supplement.
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B Vitamins In Supplements
If you choose to supplement, there is no reason not to take the whole complex of eight B vitamins in supplement form, but also no reason to take them apart from a daily multivitamin / multimineral supplement. Multivitamins commonly contain the full spectrum of B vitamins. There are also instances where taking additional individual B vitamin may be appropriate. For example, vitamin B12 may be useful for those who use stomach-acid controlling drugs, including H-2 blockers and proton-pump inhibitors, or who take Metformin to treat type 2 diabetes. Consult with your doctor before beginning any new supplements.
Why You Need B Vitamins
The B vitamin group plays a special role in your body. First of all, B vitamins help enzymes with several functions, including:
- Releasing energy from proteins, carbohydrates, and fats
- Breaking down amino acids
- Moving oxygen and energy around your body
B vitamins also help your cells grow and multiply. Some B vitamins also aid the bodys production of hemoglobin, which is important for red blood cells. Hemoglobin gives blood its red color and also helps transport oxygen throughout your body.
Some other health benefits of B vitamins include:
Vitamin B6, or pyridoxine, supports biochemical reactions in your immune system. Taking this B vitamin as a supplement has been proven to increase immune responses in people who are critically ill.
Data from studies suggests that the more B vitamins there are in your blood, the better your performance will be with tests involving memory, problem-solving, and word and sentence formation.
Vitamin B6 and B12 appear to play roles in reducing heart disease and some types of cancer. However, there is also research to suggest that long-term use of these two B vitamins might increase lung cancer risk in men.
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If You’re Pregnant Or Could Get Pregnant
If you’re pregnant, trying for a baby, or could get pregnant, it’s recommended that you take a 400 microgram folic acid supplement daily until you’re 12 weeks pregnant.
Folic acid supplements need to be taken before you get pregnant, so start taking them before you stop using contraception or if there’s a chance you might get pregnant.
This is to help prevent neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, in your baby.
Some women have an increased risk of having a pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect and are advised to take a higher dose of 5mg of folic acid each day until they’re 12 weeks pregnant.
This is important and unlikely to cause harm, as it’s taken on a short-term basis, but speak to your doctor first.
Get more advice about vitamins and minerals during pregnancy, including who should take a higher dose of folic acid.
Who Is At Risk For Vitamin B Deficiency
While most people who eat a balanced diet are going to get regular exposure to B vitamins, some may be prone to low levels due to absorption issues.
Fortunately, you dont typically need to worry about over-supplementing with B vitamins. All B vitamins are water-soluble, meaning that excess amounts pass out of the body via the urine. This lessens the risk of toxicity from overexposure. Even so, following supplement recommendations from your practitioner is always safest.
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Where Should We Get Our Vitamins
Our experts agree that the best source of vitamins is our diet. Whole, fresh, unprocessed foods provide the vitamins our bodies crave. Board certified rehabilitation specialist Dr. Scott Schreiber focuses on obtaining vitamins from whole foods. “Whole foods are the best source of vitamins and minerals,” he tells us. “If it grows from the ground, the way nature intended it, vitamins and minerals occur in their most natural states and can be absorbed the easiest.”
It’s also important to remember that heat can alter the makeup of the vitamins in food. “Cooking methods alter the nutritional status of fresh foods, especially the water-soluble vitamins,” nutritionist Amanda Henham of Vaga Nutrition explains. “So mixing up raw and cooked foods throughout the day is ideal.”
Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of these vital nutrients. Vitamin A can be found in orange-colored vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots. Henham recommends eating healthy fats like avocado and nuts to obtain vitamin E and leafy greens for vitamin K.
For the water soluble vitamins, reach for brightly colored fruits and vegetables like oranges, bell peppers, and berries.
Testing For Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency is diagnosed based on the measurement of serum Vitamin B12 levels.
Since 50% of patients with the condition may show normal levels,
a more accurate screening method is to measure serum methylmalonic acid and homocysteine levels,
which increase early in Vitamin B12 deficiency.
Research shows that oral supplementation of Vitamin B12 is a safe and effective treatment for vitamin deficiency.
Supplementation is also useful when intrinsic factor is not present in the
stomach to aid in the absorption of Vitamin B12 .
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What The Science Shows
Dietary supplement is an umbrella term that includes everything from vitamins and minerals to botanicals and biosimilar products . For the most part, though, people use “supplement” to mean an individual vitamin or mineral preparation or a multivitamin .
Even though supplements are popular, there is limited evidence that they offer any significant health benefits. In fact, a study published online May 28, 2018, by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that the four most commonly used supplements multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin C did not protect against cardiovascular disease.
So why do so many people take supplements if the health benefits are negligible or nonexistent for the average, healthy person? “People often think of them as something extra they can do to be sure their basic nutritional needs are covered,” says Dr. Manson. There’s also a possible placebo effect to taking supplements, she adds. “People feel healthier if they do something they believe makes them healthy.”
The greatest issue with supplements is that they are not regulated by the FDA. “Supplements can appear on the shelf without having to prove they offer any benefits,” says Dr. Manson. “With limited regulation and oversight, it’s also difficult to know for certain that the supplement contains the ingredients on the label and is free of contaminants.”
Symptoms Of Vitamin B12 Deficiency Include:
Supplementation of certain other vitamins may mask the symptoms of a Vitamin B12 deficiency.
Taking high doses of folic acid can make B12 deficiency difficult to detect.
If left untreated, Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause nerve damage.
Therefore, it is important to be aware of the different supplements you are taking and how they could be masking other problems going on within your body.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is often treated with vitamin B12 injections to bypass absorption barriers.
However, high doses of vitamin B12 in oral form have also been used effectively.
One study concluded that 2,000 mcg of oral vitamin B12 daily,
followed by a decreased daily dose of 1,000 mcg and then 1,000 mcg weekly and finally,
monthly might be as effective as intramuscular administration.
Nevertheless, overall, an individuals ability to absorb vitamin B12 is most important when deciding what form to use vitamin B12 supplementally.
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Avoid Anemia With Vitamin B12
Adults need only 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12, also called cyanocobalamin, each day. Pregnant or breastfeeding teens and women need more: 2.6 to 2.8 mcg daily. Vitamin B12 is not naturally occurring in plant foods, so vegetarians and vegans may not get enough in their diets and may need to take a B supplement. Natural sources rich in vitamin B12 are dairy products, fish, meat, and in particular beef liver and clams. This type of vitamin B can also be found in fortified items like breakfast cereals and nutritional yeast.
Vitamin B12 is essential for building blood cells and maintaining healthy nerve cells in the body. As many as 15 percent of people in the United States have a vitamin B12 deficiency, which can lead to anemia. Symptoms of B12 deficiency include weakness, fatigue, constipation, weight loss, and loss of appetite. Deficiency is also damaging to the nervous system and can cause depression, confusion, and dementia.