Ever since I was little, I remember the daily routine where my mom would give me a Flintstones vitamin after lunch. I took them because I was told it’d make me strong and that it had a lot of good stuff in it that my body needed. Being a kid, I didn’t care about any of that stuff. I was excited about getting these Flintstones-themed vitamins that sometimes acted as replacement candy. Years later, it evolved into the gummy multivitamin which I’d taken in spurts all the way to adulthood. At some point, I graduated to the “I need to drink water with this” multivitamin.
As I write this post, I’ll admit to currently not taking a multivitamin. Taking oral supplements is a topic I’m personally mixed with. I only take things if I feel like I want to prevent something beforehand, such as putting on my immunity patch from The Patch Brand. On the days where I know I’ll be out in the Chicago cold running errands and walking around, the immunity patch is on my wrist.
This isn’t an article based on The Patch Brand. I wanted to further dive into vitamins and whether or not they were worth investing in. My relationship with vitamins sparked after graduating college when I got my first non-retail job working at a ketogenic-based diet clinic. One of the important focuses at the clinic was that clients needed to incorporate supplements due to being restricted from eating certain types of foods while on a diet. This led me to further look into how my diet was and if I was missing any key nutrients.
It turned out that I wasn’t missing many vitamins at all with a pescatarian diet. Typically, I eat fish three times a week on my diet. In the oily fish family, I mostly have salmon or sardines, which have Vitamin D. I don’t need to take a Vitamin D supplement as long as I continue my pescatarian diet. If there ever comes a time that I solely become a vegetarian, which I’ve thought about, I’d still rely on a food source, like eggs or plant-based milk as my source of Vitamin D.
For those that are vegan though, it’s a different story when it comes to them getting their nutrients. Since they can’t rely on getting some key vitamins and nutrients from food alone, they have to resort to buying vitamins. An example of a vitamin vegans lack from their diet is B12 which is often found in animal foods. Vegans can also be low in omega-3, iron, zinc, and calcium. Thankfully, there seems to be a growing market for vegan supplements brands such as RItual and Care/Of, which offers both vegetarian and vegan alternatives.
All of the articles utilized for this blog post mentioned that the main source of our vitamins should be coming from the foods we consume. Centrum, a well known vitamin brand in U.S. stores even mentioned on their website that “most people can get the vitamins they need through the foods they eat.” Some people have dietary restrictions where they need more of an “oomph” by benefiting from purchasing vitamin supplements. Also, some would need to take vitamins daily depending on where they live in the world. For example, if you live in a place that doesn’t get much sunlight throughout the day, it’s recommended you take a vitamin D supplement.
Multivitamins can affect your mood when it comes to brain function. For older adults, it can be especially helpful to improve their memory. Taking a multivitamin daily can also help with your sight. Antioxidant vitamins and minerals may have the ability to slow the progression of blindness. Individuals who have “undergone weight loss surgery, are on low calorie diets, or don’t get enough nutrients from food alone,” like vegans, benefit from orally taking supplements.
Another group of individuals that can benefit from making sure they get enough vitamins and nutrients are women who have regular periods. I started getting cramps a few days before my period started for the first time ever. Reason being is because I got the non-hormonal Paragard IUD. Cramps were one of the side effects that I signed up for willingly. My periods were also much heavier, which is something I was also signing up for. No more three-day periods. Hello full seven days.
I started taking iron supplements to help with the heavy flow. I make sure to always eat before taking iron because the second time I ever took it, I forgot to eat and everything came back up. It didn’t look pretty. To help with cramps, I take magnesium when the cramps start before my period. Over time, they’ve become effective for me. I know it won’t work for everybody. My diet is fairly normal when I’m menstruating, except that I get major cravings that fluctuate. According to MedlinePlus, “vitamin E appears to decrease the duration and severity of cramps, and may even reduce menstrual blood loss.” To get vitamin E, I cook with vegetable oil and eat eggs. It is also important to have Vitamin C in your system. Foods high in Vitamin C are peppers and citrus fruits, including oranges and grapefruit.
Overall, I don’t have a preference on whether or not I’m pro or con on vitamin supplements. My diet might change in the future, maybe I won’t have as heavy periods later on in life and as I age, I’ll likely change my current supplement intake accordingly. It’s important that we don’t take supplements just because everyone else is doing it. We must continue to be conscious consumers and only take what we need by assessing our diets, how we live our lifestyle and our age.
Edited by: Ariana Jenkins