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A Quick Look at Vitamin Supplements

Everyone hears a lot of talk these days about vitamin and mineral supplements, and the conflicting information one hears can be quite confusing. The important thing to know about vitamin supplements is that they should not be expected to fully make up for a lousy diet. There is no one magic pill that will erase the effects of a diet consisting of junk food and sodas. Vitamin supplements can certainly help, but should ideally be used as a compliment to a healthy and balanced diet.

Fat Soluble or Water Soluble
Bottles of VitaminsAs you explore the world of vitamin supplements, you will no doubt hear the terms fat soluble and water soluble a great deal. Fat soluble vs. water soluble refers to how the vitamins are stored and used by the body. Water soluble vitamins are easily excreted and typically must be taken every day, while fat soluble vitamins can be stored in the body.

Water soluble vitamins are often lost by cooking foods. They need to be replaced regularly because they are quickly eliminated from the body. This means it is important to get these vitamins each day, through a balanced diet or supplements, to maintain normal metabloic functioning.

Since fat soluble vitamins can be stored in body tissues (espcially the liver) and fat deposits for long periods of time, there is greater risk of building up a toxic level. However, this is quite rare with well-balanced diets in healthy people, but it is something to watch for if you are taking mega-doses of fat soluble vitamins.

The most widely known fat soluble vitamins are:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K

Vitamin SupplementsThe most well known of the water soluble vitamins are:

  • Vitamin C
  • Thiamin (B1)
  • Riboflavin (B2)
  • Niacin (B3)
  • Panthothenic Acid (B5)
  • Pyridoxine (B6)
  • Cobalamin (B12)
  • Folate
  • Biotin

Much of the appeal of vitamin supplements lies in the fact that they are widely available, convenient, easy to take, inexpensive and generally quite effective. Vitamin supplements continue to be studied for ther potential benefits in a number of areas, including the prevention and treatment of a number of diseases and chronic conditions.

Many studies have already been completed showing strong benefits, such as healthier immune systems from taking multivitamins, reduced bone fractures from calcium supplementation, drastic reductions in spina bifida from folic acid supplementation in pregnant women, etc. Most people, especially those that don't always eat a healthy and well-balanced diet, could benefit from taking quality multi-vitamin supplements.

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