Do you take multivitamins? And if so, do you give much thought about what multivitamins you take?
It is true that there is no study that proves taking just multivitamins can lengthen your life.
However, there certainly is a lot of data to support the use of certain vitamin supplements in certain people to help them with health issues.
Likewise, there is a lot of data to show that the wrong person taking the wrong type or amount of vitamin can also be very bad for that person’s health and could even shorten his or her life.
So, why is finding the right combination of vitamin supplements specifically for your needs so very important?
Here are nine facts you should know about those vitamins you’re taking.
What You Need To Know About Vitamins
1. People who are deficient in Vitamin D do not live as long.
A recent study in the British Medical Journal concluded that people with lower levels of this important fat soluble vitamin had a greater risk of death from cancer, heart disease and other causes. Those who supplemented with the correct type and amount of Vitamin D lived longer.
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2. People who do not get enough calcium are at risk for having lower bone density.
Lower bone density (osteoporosis) puts people at risk for hip fractures among other health challenges. Women who fracture their hips are twice as likely to die in the next year as other women their age.
Therefore, supplementing with the right amount of calcium (in the proper combination with dietary calcium) is essential to building strong bones and reducing lifetime risk of fractures and accelerated mortality.
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3. On the flip side of the calcium issue, there is the concern about taking too much calcium in supplement form.
Several studies show that women who took large doses of calcium supplements had higher rates of cardiovascular death.
The theory in these studies is that taking large doses of calcium causes high levels of circulating calcium that may build up in your arteries and contribute to heart disease. It can also cause kidney stones and constipation.
This remains a controversial idea, but the bottom line is that some calcium is good, but too much is not good.
4. People who are iodine deficient have a higher risk of becoming hypothyroid.
Hypothyroidism in its most extreme state can cause coma and death. Most people get a less dramatic form where they may gain weight, have fatigue, and experience hair loss. In fact, worldwide iodine deficiency is the most common cause of this endocrine abnormality.
Iodine deficiency is on the rise in the U.S. Taking the right amount of supplemental iodine is essential. However, too much can also cause great harm.
Sensing a theme here?
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5. Vitamin A deficiency is a significant cause of infant death worldwide.
Developing countries have literally hundreds of thousands of children each year who lose their sight and often their lives from this common deficiency. Ironically, very few people in the developed world (especially in the U.S.) suffer from this deficiency.
Related Article: 5 Frightening Facts About Eye Health That You Need To Know
6. In the U.S., we take too much Vitamin A, which could actually hurt us.
In fact, one large study of smokers showed that taking high doses of Vitamin A may increase risk of developing lung cancer.
Taking too much Vitamin A also can lead to osteoporosis. This condition, as mentioned in #2 above, can lead to hip fractures and, ultimately, an earlier death. As shown, Vitamin A certainly seems one of those cases where more is not necessarily better.
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7. Taking dietary supplements touted as “natural herbs” has led to cases of severe liver damage.
This most often happens when the products contain unlisted ingredients such as steroids. The oversight in manufacturing of these products is lacking and therefore purity standards may be lax. Taking vitamins made under the highest quality standards is essential.
8. If you are taking a vitamin that falls short on certain essential electrolytes, you could be missing out on important, life prolonging benefits.
For example, magnesium appears to have some role in preventing cardiac death and stroke. Many of us are deficient in magnesium and it is not present in most common multivitamins.
9. Many people fall short on iron: the vitamin essential to all our cellular functions.
Iron carries oxygen to the cells and is absolutely crucial to life. Many people, women especially, fall short on iron. They are depleted from getting their monthly period and from pregnancies, which sap large amounts of iron from bodily stores.
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Iron deficiency leads to severe fatigue, cardiac issues and other problems. As is the case with just about all other vitamins, iron overload also can be very toxic and life threatening.
We all need the right amount of vitamins, but don’t just take vitamin supplements without thinking. There are so many reasons that taking the right vitamins is important. Too much or too little can be harmful. We are all individuals with unique needs based on diet, lifestyle and health histories.
Arielle Levitan is a doctor of Internal Medicine with a special interest in Preventive Medicine and Women’s Health. Romy Block specializes in Endocrinology and Metabolism. As professional women with active family lives and young children, they recognize that women, in their many roes, often neglect their own health needs and are uncertain about what vitamins to take. Each woman is different in her diet, exercise and health history, and will benefit from different nutrients. After years of advising their patients about the proper vitamins to take, Drs. Block and Levitan created Vous Vitamin™ to provide women everywhere with quality vitamins that are suited to their individual needs.You should consult with your doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in this article and before beginning any vitamin or supplement regimen. Photo by shannonkringen