Health

The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear the Confusion about Vitamins and Your Health

Arielle Levitan & Romy J Block

Professional athletes take vitamins to balance their diet and achieve optimal levels of physical performance. But do the rest of us, casual athletes, also need to take vitamin supplements? Well, you may not need vitamin supplements, but they may still be right for you. Nowadays, we can observe that the correct consumption of vitamins is good for the body and the general health.

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Good reasons to supplement your diet with vitamins

Have you ever met someone very eccentric who tried to convince you to take vitamin supplements? This kind of situation often leaves us skeptical of the benefits of vitamins.

Even the medical community is not sure of the effectiveness of vitamins.

Much of this uncertainty is caused by the inability of scientific studies to provide definitive results.

For example, in 2000, the biologist Patrizia Mecocci conducted a study on the effect of vitamins on the lifespan of humans. However, even after this study, no one has been able to come to the conclusive evidence that vitamins prolong life. And many other studies since then have also concluded that vitamins are ineffective.

On the other hand, there are other researchers who argue that the problem is not in the vitamins, but in the science behind those studies.

They suggest that such studies often fail to present conclusive results. And according to them, this is because participants do not continue to take doses of vitamins for long enough periods of time.

Other important factors that contribute to this is that the effects of vitamin supplements are very dependent on the individual. Therefore, studies in which participants spend years taking vitamin C are unlikely to present uniform results. And this is because it is likely that not all participants will need vitamin C; some may need other different supplements.

Despite these differences, it is possible to state with confidence that most patients will probably benefit from a form of vitamin supplementation that fits into their lifestyle.

After all, it does not matter if your diet is healthy or not, you are probably missing out on some important nutrients that can be easily supplemented.

For example, a vegetarian diet can lead to deficiencies in vitamin B12 and iron. And if your diet consists of too much meat, you may lose other essential nutrients like vitamin A or vitamin C.

Achieving the perfect balance through diet is almost impossible. And some nutrients are difficult to access. Vitamin D3, for example, is essential for bone health, but only exists in wild salmon.

Vitamins can help with hangovers

Life is full of difficulties that bring headaches. Overworked to meet deadlines, quarrel with your partner for past due bills, building noise near your apartment – any of these things can bring a lot of pain.

Although the supplements may not solve all your problems, they can help heal a headache.

One of the main causes of headaches is dehydration, and electrolytes are here to help with this.

Of course, drinking lots of water is a good way to stay hydrated. But your body also needs many electrolytes. These electrolytes are the secret because they are loaded with particles that keep the water coming into your body. Without them, no matter how much water you drink, it will come out in urine form, and you will continue to dehydrate.

So make sure you get enough electrolytes like magnesium, sodium, and potassium. They can be found in mineral waters, sports drinks or supplements.

Vitamins can also help you beat a hangover.

In fact, hangovers are also linked to dehydration. One of the side effects of drinking alcohol is that it dehydrates the cells of the body, especially the brain cells.

So to avoid those throbbing headaches the next morning, drink water and electrolytes before, during, and after your party.

There are also some other vitamins you can take to help with recovery. Before bed, or when you wake up, take a combination of vitamin B1, magnesium, and folic acid. And to be sure, remember to prepare this dosage before drinking lots of drinks.

These vitamins will fit into some receptors in your brain and will protect them from the harmful effects of alcohol in your system. That way, you will ensure a much less painful and agonizing morning.

Iron supplements can give you more energy

It happens to everyone: you wake up, and for some reason, the last thing you want to do is go to the gym or work. Some may call this a phenomenon of laziness – but perhaps your body needs a little iron.

An iron deficiency is not a joke. In fact, it can lead to various problems like lack of energy or even depression.

Your red blood cells use iron to attach/carry oxygen to your body. So the lack of iron means that the body’s systems are being compromised since a smaller amount of oxygen is circulating. And that leads to the feeling of exhaustion and lethargy.

Women who lose a lot of iron during the menstrual period tend to suffer more from iron deficiency than men. But men can also suffer from this, especially if they follow a vegetarian diet since our main source of iron is red meat.

But feeling tired is not the only sign of iron deficiency. Other symptoms include confusing thoughts, depression and hair loss. All of this can appear even if your iron level drops little. So it’s all important to check your iron levels and find out if supplementation is needed.

If you are thinking of starting taking iron supplements, it is important to be very careful with the dosage: too much iron can be dangerous, and a serious overdose can be fatal.

Our bodies are sensitive to iron; too much iron can result in unpleasant side effects like constipation and dry cough. So to make sure you are taking the right amount, consult a doctor.

It is also important to make sure that you do not have a condition called Hemochromatosis, which makes people intolerant to iron (even in small amounts). In hemochromatosis, iron cannot be processed and ends up depositing in vital organs – which can be very dangerous.

Lack of vitamin d can lead to depression

If you’ve already run outdoors to enjoy a sunny day, you’re not alone. One reason for this common reaction is that our bodies are trying to recover from the lack of sunlight and its benefits.

In fact, the lack of sunlight is seen as a major cause of the growing epidemic of vitamin D deficiency.

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly why vitamin D deficiency is so common. In fact, there are many reasons that can explain this.

One of them is the source of vitamin D: the sun. So if you live in a cold and cloudy environment, or simply work long hours in an office, you’re likely to need a little vitamin D.

Also, another cause is the amount of sunscreen that we apply when we are outdoors. Sunscreen is rather a very important preventative measure against skin cancer – but by blocking the sun’s rays, the protector also prevents your body from metabolizing vitamin D.

Another risk is that run by people with darker skin. The natural color of the skin prevents their bodies from absorbing sunlight. The consequences of this epidemic are very serious.

In fact, many physicians who consider the benefits of vitamin supplements are finding a link between vitamin D deficiency and depression. And this is especially true for winter depression, which affects people living in cold climates.

But unfortunately, you can not just take a few vitamin D pills and end your winter depression.

Vitamin D is unique because it needs to be stored in the body fat, which is a slow process. And it can take six months to a year for the body to replenish vitamin D levels.

So to avoid this winter depression, the best attitude is to plan and start taking vitamin D in the summer.

Magnesium keeps health from muscles and bones

You may have already heard about the benefits of magnesium for the health of the elderly or debilitated people. But in fact, magnesium is very important for everyone, young or old.

Magnesium is especially crucial to help prevent muscle problems and poor nights sleep.

Magnesium is a very important mineral for the functionality of our cells. It is an essential part of our nervous system, allowing it to send signals to all of our muscles, including the heart.

So with a magnesium deficiency, you can end up with symptoms like muscle aches, cramps, osteoporosis or sleeping problems.

Currently, magnesium deficiencies are caused partly by the food industry, which uses pesticides and contaminates the soil. And this can lead to a decrease of minerals in the growing areas, resulting in plants with little nutritional value and few minerals.

Although magnesium can still be found in many nutritious foods like bananas, nuts, vegetables, and wheat, having these foods in your regular diet may not be enough. So, it is important to consider a magnesium supplementation.

This is especially true if you are an athlete since magnesium speeds up the recovery of the body. Through sweat and physical exertion, athletes are vulnerable to magnesium deficiency, and this can result in cramps and strains, disrupting performance.

Magnesium is also an important element in strengthening and regenerating bone and muscle structure, which makes it even more crucial for athletes.

Finally, in addition to relieving tense muscles, magnesium also provides better nights sleep by stimulating specific brain receptors that help the body relax. While everyone can appreciate the benefits of this, for athletes it is even more crucial, since their performance depends a lot on a good night’s sleep.

Iodine is important for the thyroid

Most of the time, we think of salt regarding its taste-related benefits rather than health-related benefits. But the truth is that salt is very important to our well-being. And the interesting thing is, the salt called “healthy” is less beneficial.

The importance of salt comes from iodine, which prevents over-stimulation or under-stimulation of your thyroid gland, and allows the gland to produce the hormones that the body needs.

Therefore, when there is an iodine deficiency in the body that interferes with proper thyroid function, many symptoms may appear: your heart rate decreases and you may feel depressed, tired, or constipated.

But too much iodine can also be bad and can cause thyroid overstimulation. This over-stimulation causes the body to overwork, making you feel nervous, over-stimulated, and hyperactive. Your hands may shake, you may have hot flashes, diarrhea, and trouble sleeping.

Therefore, it is very important to receive the correct amount of iodine. Unfortunately, healthy diets often do not have enough iodine, while supplements can work in the other direction – with an excess of iodine.

Thyroid problems have not always been common. In the past, most people tempered their food with a fair amount of salt. Currently, diets suggest that you eat less salt and processed foods. This has caused people to avoid these processed foods, which normally contain iodine. Also, people started using Himalayan salt and sea salt, which although healthy, do not have iodine in their compositions.

These modern trends have resulted in people with iodine deficiency and a functioning thyroid below functional. And as we know that a consistent lack of iodine can cause leakage and developmental disabilities in children, it is very important to consider supplementation with iodine.

But as with iron, you need to be careful with the dosage of supplementation. Many products have a lot of iodine, which will over stimulate your thyroid and lead to symptoms like tremors and hair loss.

No one wants to go through the experience of having a close friend or relative who cannot remember anymore. And still, many discoveries are emerging that will help fight the brain disorders that have harmed us for so many years.

However, currently, diseases involving memory loss and cognitive degeneration have increased.

As a significant portion of our population ages, diseases related to memory loss, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s, will be even more common.

Fortunately, there is much research in this area, and we can see patients who have made simple adjustments in their lifestyles and could counteract the symptoms of memory loss and cognitive impairment.

These adjustments include: keeping the brain active by doing crossword puzzles or playing Sudoku and also staying socially active.

And while medicinal healing does not yet exist, vitamins can also play an important role in reducing symptoms.

The most useful vitamin, in this case, is B12, which can counteract problems related to memory loss.

In fact, acute vitamin B12 deficiencies have been observed in patients suffering from memory or attention deficit problems, establishing a clear link between vitamin and neurological disorders. And these observations not only apply to the elderly: the benefits were also seen in children and young adults who experienced problems with focus or memory.

Also, there are several ways to supplement vitamin B12 to fight these symptoms. Depending on the proper dosage, there are pills, injections or prescription nasal sprays.

However, while B12 is effective in counteracting these neurological problems, there is no evidence to suggest that it can improve the functions of an already healthy brain.

So, as we have seen, there are many ways and reasons for vitamins to be able to help you live a healthier life. But finding the right vitamin and dosage for you is not an easy task. So be sure to seek the advice of your doctor before starting a supplemental regimen.

Final Notes

If you aren’t sure which vitamins and dosage to take, talk to your doctor. You can also take tests to measure the levels of vitamins in your body. That way, you will know what deficiencies you are experiencing and if you need supplementation.

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