Why I Take Vitamins & What I Recommend

There’s a side of health and wellness that many of us brush under the rug, or simply choose to not think about: micronutrients. We often hear about the importance of the “macronutrient” ratio for weight loss; but believe it or not, there is more to it than just eating protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Welcome to the world of micronutrients!

Micronutrients are substances that are required by the body in small amounts (micro meaning small) and are composed of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help our bodies thrive. They are responsible for creating enzymes that break down food and keeping intestines happy, as well as facilitating growth and hormone production. Vitamins and minerals make up our genes, develop new cells, and protect us from damaging free radicals. In other words, we absolutelyneed micronutrients for development, maintenance, energy and growth within the body.

Understanding Vitamins & Minerals

Vitamins and minerals are found in almost everything we eat; fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products all contain vitamins and minerals. However, processed foods are generally stripped of these nutrients and leave you without beneficial nutrients,  and is why so we advise against processed foods like simple carbohydrates (white flours, pastas, breads, refined sugar, etc.). In today’s world, trying to avoid processed foods for forever is impossible; just about everything has become subject to processing for both economic and agricultural purposes. Even the cleanest, paleo-est, and organic-est eaters will eat foods that are not in the most natural state. Because of this, many of us turn to vitamin supplements to ensure we are giving our bodies exactly what it needs.

I eat very nutritious and wholesome foods throughout the week, but I still take a number of vitamins in the morning. Many of us try to omit supplementation and try to obtain all of our required nutrients through food alone; while that is great and totally a personal preference, I just like a little reassurance from time to time. I am a firm believer that supplements of any kind are designed to supplement your life. I will never recommend taking vitamins or other supplements in place of real food. But, I do think vitamins and supplements are very beneficial for anyone who might not be meeting requirements, eating clean daily, or live busy lives and don’t have time/accessibility to healthy options.

IMG_7162.jpg

Most micronutrients are considered “essential” because they are not naturally produced by the body and do require an outside source (food, supplements, etc.). Without an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals, we can face a number of deficiencies that can lead to harmful and potentially chronic diseases. As of today, researchers recommend 13-staple vitamins that are essential for the body. These being:

  1. Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
  2. Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
  3. Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
  4. Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
  5. Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
  6. Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)
  7. Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
  8. Vitamin H (Biotin)
  9. Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
  10. Vitamin A (Retinoids) *fat-soluble 
  11. Vitamin D (Calciferol) *fat-soluble
  12. Vitamin E (Tocopherol) *fat-soluble 
  13. Vitamin K *fat-soluble 

Vitamins are organic compounds (derived from living matter) and can be broken down into two categories, fat soluble and water soluble. In laymen’s terms, fat soluble vitamins are absorbed into the body through fats and oil. They can also be stored in the body which is the complete opposite of water soluble vitamins, B and C. Water soluble vitamins can be excreted through urine if you consume too much; whereas fat soluble vitamins cannot be excreted, and can increase the risk of toxicity in the body.

Each vitamin plays a unique role in the body and can aid in a variety of functions. For example, B complex vitamins help convert food into fuel, and make sure we are feeling our best. While that sounds like the most important function ever, vitamin A plays a role in maintaining nerve function, vision, and can act as an antioxidant to fight off free radicals. Both equally important, but serve very different purposes in the body. This is why it’s so important to consume micronutrients! Yes, macronutrients give us energy, fill our bellies, and encourage muscle-building potential; BUT, micronutrients give us life – quite literally!

{ Here is one of my favorite articles regarding vitamins and their functions! MedlinePlus: Vitamins }

Minerals act very similarly, and too play a crucial role in the body. Unlike vitamins, minerals are inorganic (not derived from living matter) and cannot be produced by the body. Minerals may be small, but they are mighty! They also contribute to growth, maintenance, and keeping your body in tip-top shape. The 16 essential minerals include:

  1. Calcium
  2. Sodium
  3. Magnesium
  4. Phosphorous
  5. Potassium
  6. Zinc
  7. Iodine
  8. Choline
  9. Chromium
  10. Copper
  11. Iron
  12. Manganese
  13. Selenium
  14. Molybdenum
  15. Sulfer
  16. Fluoride

If it’s starting to look like your chemistry lab, hang in there, we’re almost done! It’s crazy to think that all of these micronutrients are working for your body at this very moment. It’s fascinating to think that each and every vitamin and mineral has a job; or various jobs, and essentially gives you life! Minerals are essential for building and maintaining strong bones, assists in regulation of the heart, transmitting nerve impulses, promotes normal kidney function, and so much more.

{ Another great article all about minerals, where to get them, and deficiencies! Merck Manual: Overview of Minerals }

Vitamins and minerals are components of life. When we consume vitamin rich vegetables or antioxidant fighting fruits, we are nourishing our bodies with recognizable elements that have purpose. When we consume refined sugars and processed white breads, we are filling our bodies with unrecognizable food that serve little to no purpose in the body. I truly believe when you begin to understand your body on a molecular level, you start to appreciate it on a new level. You choose to nourish your body because it makes sense and your “why” goes from – wanting to look better – to wanting to feel better.

My Supplement Routine & Essentials

As I mentioned, I do take vitamin supplements every morning. By no means does this replace healthy foods in my diet or give me an excuse to skimp on nutritious foods. Vitamin supplements is a personally preference, unless recommended by a specialist, and are meant to simply “supplement” the body. Just because you take a multivitamin in the morning, doesn’t mean you should have fast food and donuts for lunch. I mean this would be great, but unfortunately that’s not the case.

I like to think of my vitamins as a safety net, or just a little something extra just in case. Most vitamins and minerals are found in classic healthy foods; dark leafy greens such as kale or spinach, contain vitamins A, C, K and folate, as well as iron and calcium. Sweet potatoes are also rich in vitamin A (beta-carotene antioxidant) and potassium – even  more than bananas. Along with omega-3’s, eggs contain are rich in choline, B vitamins, and biotin. As you can see, consuming vitamins and minerals is not hard and can and should be consumed through real food if possible, but there is nothing wrong with taking a reliable multivitamin in the morning to ensure you are covered.

My environment influences many aspects of my diet, especially my vitamins. I live in Northeast Ohio, where the sun is scarce this time of year and the flu happens to be extra prevalent. For this reason, I take roughly 4,000 units of D3 every single morning. Vitamin D is found in small amounts in few foods such as fatty fish, and thanks to our wonderful food industry – fortified (added into) milk and cereals. Many of us obtain enough vitamin D through sunlight alone and don’t need to worry about deficiencies; however, Ohio doesn’t have much sun, or bearable temperatures, for six months out of the year so I have use supplements to meet my requirements. A few other determining factors include my budget as a working college gal, and product availability at my local groceries. I personally can’t afford to buy purely organic produce and pasture raised meats on a weekly basis. I may be losing out on higher-quality and promising  nutrients, but it is what it is.

IMG_7171.jpg

Here’s a look at what I take on a daily basis + a few products that I love but don’t always have on hand. By no means should you take exactly what I am taking without consulting a specialist first! I just want to give you a look at what I take and what works for me.

Essential Supplements: Vitamin B Complex with Vitamin C (contains all B vitamins + vitamin C for immune support), Vitamin D3, Fish Oil, and Turmeric (Curcumin)

Extra Supplements:  Garden of Life Women’s Probiotic, Women’s One Multivitamin, Digestive Enzymes

I’ve been taking my essential vitamins for a few years now and I noticeably feel better when taking them. I have energy in the middle of January, regular digestibility, and I have been in a house full of flu-victims and runny noses, and managed to make it out unscathed. I can’t give vitamin supplements all the credit, but I do think they helped.

Vitamin supplements are a great reassurance if you know you might be lacking in certain nutrients. However, vitamins do not replace real food and the need for an all around healthy lifestyle. You can’t expect to feel great and look great, just from taking a multivitamin every morning.

Supplement Brands & Do They Really Matter?

The great vitamin debate: does price equal quality?

Before we get into it, let me first explain vitamin regulation and how quality is determined in the first place. Most vitamin supplements are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as “Dietary Supplements.” In June 2007, the FDA established the current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) regulations requiring that manufactures thoroughly test their products for purity, strength, and composition. The United States Pharmacopeia (USP) is another to set official standards and regulations for vitamin supplements. They too evaluate vitamin products on purity, strength, and composition before releasing for public sale.

Here’s the issue: the FDA only has authority to review a product after it has been marketed; it’s the brand’s job to ensure effectiveness and safety before going on the shelf.  The FDA can take products off of the shelves if deemed misleading or harmful, but this is only after the fact. Here’s the other issue: just because the FDA deems an ingredient as safe, does not mean you should consume it in large quantities.

IMG_7222.jpg

Do brands matter? Well, kind of. It is important to choose a trusted brand such as Nature Made or NOW Foods because they do pass a number of quality assurance tests that are FDA approved. But, it’s also important to choose a brand that is natural and free of additives, preservatives, or dyes. For example, Centrum is a very well-known brand that many people trust (approved by the FDA) and use on a daily basis, but unfortunately this brand also contains a number of questionable ingredients – binders, fillers, and colors – that can be toxic in the body. {Remember“Safe” by the FDA doesn’t always mean good for you!} On the other hand, vitamins and supplements are becoming so popular that a lot of small, pop-up shops are beginning to sell different herbal products. Although they might be selling the most natural and purest form of a supplement, that doesn’t mean that it is safe to consume on a daily basis. All in all – find a reputable brand, read the ingredients list, avoid any sort of additives, and you will be just fine.

Popularity of a product does not necessarily ensure quality, either. Many influencers and social media gurus rave about certain products that cost an arm and a leg to keep around, but that doesn’t mean they are any better than brands sold at your nearest drug store. Again, it is a personal preference, but it’s also about reading the ingredients list and making sure that your vitamin doesn’t contain anything other than what you bought.

{ If you’re interested in learning about quality assurance in specific products, check out ConsumerLab for a full review on just about any product! }


When it comes to any and all supplements, I thoroughly recommend doing some research and finding what works best for you and your lifestyle. Nutrition research has come along way, but we are still learning and figuring out the best ways to optimize our health. Vitamins, and other health aiding supplements, are safe to consumer under most conditions (always check with a doctor first), but are in no shape or form necessary for your diet. Supplements are meant to supplement, compliment, or enrich your wellbeing; however, they are not to be relied or depended on for bettering your overall health. When used consciously with proper diet and exercise, vitamins can dramatically increase energy, aid in digestion, increase hormone production, and maintain crucial functions within the body.

As always, eating wholesome and nutritious foods should always come first. You will never, ever, ever feel great by relying on vitamin supplements alone. On the contrary, vitamins are designed to help your body meet your micronutrient daily requirements to enhance your overall health. I’m sure this isn’t shocking to hear, but it’s all about finding a balance with both food and supplements to fully achieve your healthy, feel-good goals.

Would you be interested in a full fitness supplement routine post? Let me know, along with any other questions, concerns, and comments below! You can also send personal inquires to our email by clicking here.

SaveSave

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *