Vitamins vs. Dietary Supplements: What You Need To Know

The food we eat provides us with essential vitamins and nutrients that allow us to stay healthy, but sometimes unhealthy eating habits cause us to miss important nutrients. For example, you can become vitamin C or B-12 deficient without an adequate amount of these nutrients in your system, which can be a result of a poor diet.

Vitamins and dietary supplements have great benefits, so it’s tempting to grab one off the shelf at your grocery store or pharmacy.

Before taking any vitamin or supplement, however, you should consult your doctor. Your physician will set up a blood test to determine which nutrients you may lack and recommend a vitamin or supplement for you to take based on the results.

You should be aware that taking large doses of certain vitamins or minerals can have a negative effect on your body. Communicate regularly with your doctor about any supplements you take, how often you take them, and your dosage amount.

Facts about vitamins

A vitamin is a natural substance normally found in food. Vitamins can come in a variety of forms—liquid, powder, pill, or gummy. There are two types of vitamins: fat-soluble and water-soluble.

Water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C and B-complex vitamins (B-12, niacin, riboflavin), do not remain in the body’s system for a long time. These vitamins are excreted through urine, so they need daily replenishment.

Fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, and E, can be stored in your body. Taking too much of a fat-soluble vitamin can lead to hypervitaminosis, or too much vitamin in the body.

Facts about dietary supplements

Dietary supplements are not substitutes for nutrients you receive from food. They are products with  one or more ingredients, including chemicals, vitamins, or amino acids, that seek to target a specific medical need. For example, pregnant women often take prenatal vitamins to supplement nutrients their bodies need throughout the pregnancy.

Dietary supplements come in many forms, and they can be used to help with weight loss; hair, skin and nail issues; and more. Dietary supplements are not meant to cure ailments.