Three Vitamin Supplements You May Need

Xu1: An assortment of vitamins and supplements I take each day.

One of the questions I get a lot as a pharmacist is what vitamins should I take?  Do I just take a multivitamin and call it a day, or do I need more than that?  Vitamins are essential micronutrients for our bodies.  They help protect us from free radical damage, are integral to our metabolism and daily function.  And although many of us are not actively taking vitamin supplements, there’s a lot of vitamins we derive from food.  If you have a balanced diet it could be argued that one does not need vitamins.  On the flip side, if you don’t have a healthy diet or have certain dietary restrictions, taking vitamins may be an essential addition to your daily routine.  So which vitamins do you need and where can you get them from?

Xu1: An assortment of vitamins and supplements I take on a daily basis. 

Vitamin C supplements are usually 1,000 mg or 500 mg.  It’s water soluble, so gets eliminated from the body quickly, meaning taking a higher dose has negligible side effects.

Vitamin C

Long ago, seafaring sailors sent on expeditions overseas were plagued with vitamin C deficiency that causes gums to bleed underneath the skin and slow wound healing.  Many sailors would die on these expeditions without understanding what happened to them.  They were sick even though they ate canned meat and fish.  It was later discovered that they were deficient in vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, an essential vitamin required for normal immune function, wound healing, absorption of iron and tissue growth.  If you have a balanced diet with fruits and vegetables, you will likely have enough vitamin C to prevent you from symptoms of scurvy.  If you’re not following a balanced diet or have trouble absorbing iron, taking vitamin C supplements may be effective.  Vitamin C 500 mg or 1000 mg are both effective at ensuring normal bodily functions.

I take a stronger Vitamin D supplement.  Typically, higher doses are only recommended for older individuals (50+ years old).

Vitamin D3

This is another common vitamin that is recommended for adults over age 50.  Especially women, as our bone densities are typically lower than that of men.  Vitamin D is the vitamin responsible for absorption of calcium.  Deficiency of vitamin D in childhood causes rickets, a condition where bones are soft and malformed.  Vitamin D deficiency in the winter has also been associated with seasonal affective disorder (SAD).  The recommended vitamin D3 amount per day is 600 IU for adults.  In those with osteoporosis and other bone related problems, higher doses may be recommended.

This is a multi-vitamin bottle containing Vitamin B12.  If absorption is an issue through the gut, then an injectable vitamin B12 is recommended.

Vitamin B12

This is one of the key vitamins that vegans need in their supplement routine.  Vitamin B12 is important in metabolism a

nd proper red blood cell formation.  Deficiency of Vitamin B12 absorption or intake can cause problems such as anemia as blood cells are not formed properly.  Fish, eggs, meat and dairy products contain vitamin B12.  Hence a normal balanced diet will typically mean you’re getting enough Vitamin B12 (unless there’s absorption problems in your gut lining).  Vitamin B12 comes in an injectable form as well.  Some of my patients will receive Vitamin B12 injections due to inability to absorb the vitamin in their gut.