If you are looking to live well, promote your health, and boost your energy, you’ve got to start with proper nutrition. After all, the old adage is true—you are what you eat!
What are Vitamins?
In order to both survive and thrive, the human body needs vitamins. All of them serve different purposes, and they’re all important. The 13 essential vitamins required for your body to function include:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
- Vitamin B3 (niacin)
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
- Vitamin B7 (biotin)
- Vitamin B9 (folate or folic acid)
- Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin)
According to Healthline, you can get these all-important vitamins from the foods you eat. They go on to also note that not eating enough vitamin-rich foods can potentially lead to a number of health-related issues, including unhealthy bones, mouth ulcers, and hair loss. The Mayo Clinic points out that different forms of vitamin deficiency can give way to other symptoms like dizziness, cognitive decline, neurological issues, and many more. All of these health concerns stem from, among other variables, a lack of vitamins. Put simply, vitamins are the gasoline of the human engine. Here are just some of the foods you should be eating in order to maintain an adequate level of daily vitamin intake:
- Whole grains
For this reason, along with many others (like environmental factors, lack of sunlight, chronic diseases, or nutritional absorption issues), supplements may be a good way to fill in any gaps in your nutrition.
What are Supplements?
But wait—what’s the difference between a vitamin and a supplement? Where a vitamin is a naturally occurring substance mostly found in food, a supplement is just as it sounds—something to be taken in addition to your food. Supplements are not considered a food, and they are created in a laboratory.
In fact, the supplements you see on the drugstore shelves are actually called “synthetic nutrients.” That’s because they’re made in a lab—as opposed to the natural nutrients found in the foods you eat.
Supplements can range from water-soluble vitamins (which dissolve in water) to herbal supplements, fat-soluble vitamins and protein supplements. In short, supplements cover every need. You can find them in plenty of forms, too, like pills, powders, liquids, capsules, and tablets. Some people even get intravenous supplementation.
You might see supplements labeled as “natural” or “all-natural,” which could mean they are extracted directly from food sources or are either 100 percent plant or animal-based (or not—as these claims are not regulated). However, if you see chemical names, it is likely that the supplement is synthesized in a lab.
Interested in how your supplements are actually made? Here’s what you should know.
How are Vitamins and Supplements Made?
As mentioned above, supplements can be derived from plant or animal products. A lab will take a fruit and extract a vitamin from it, for example. In the synthetic production of supplements, a vitamin (like vitamin A) can be synthesized from, for example, an organic compound (like acetone). According to How Products Are Made, there is no structural difference between the supplements created by these different methods.
There are many steps in the process of making a vitamin: according to How Products Are Made, a vitamin manufacturer will purchase raw vitamins and other ingredients from distributors, and then they will check it and blend it if need be.
The process contains many steps. The vitamins may go through a wet granulation stage, which helps the vitamin be properly sized. They are weighed and then properly dispensed. For example, at this stage, a specific amount of powder is put into its capsule. They are then polished (cleaned of debris or dust) and inspected. Depending on the kind of vitamin form—be it a tablet or coated—the vitamin manufacturing process may be changed. There is usually a quality control check at several different steps.
The A-Z on Supplement Safety
Despite the quality control checks, it’s extremely important to know that not all supplement brands make their supplements using only the best ingredients or their most potent forms. For example, many companies have been found to use fillers and additives—which can make supplements both unsafe and ineffective.
In 2015, a New York Times report found that many best-selling vitamin brands were using dangerous fillers in their products, sometimes excluding the original ingredients altogether.
For this reason, it’s incredibly important that you buy supplements from a trusted seller who uses only high-quality ingredients.
As mentioned above, you’ll
want to buy only “pharmaceutical-grade” supplements. These are also referred to
as “professional-grade” supplements. Here’s what you should know about them.
BodyLogicMD supplements are all pharmaceutical grade. They are made by manufacturers who meet the highest standards of safety and quality in the industry, making them a safe, effective choice for meeting your nutritional needs.
BodyLogicMD products are clearly and accurately labeled, and they use the most bioavailable (or effective) form of a vitamin. Free from fillers or additives, what you’re seeing is always what you’re getting with BodyLogicMD supplements. (You can learn more about BodyLogicMD’s professional-grade supplements here).
Additionally, it’s important to get clearance from your practitioner if you’re taking any supplement. For example, pregnant women should be monitored if they are taking their vitamin A, which if taken in excess has been linked to birth defects.
And people who are using specific drugs should be careful as well. For example, anti-seizure drugs can block the absorption of the vitamin folate, according to the Mayo Clinic.
In general, supplements are considered safe—but just because you can buy them over the counter doesn’t mean they are safe and effective for everyone. When in doubt, consult with a practitioner and buy from trusted sources only.
The Importance of Getting Tested for Vitamin & Mineral Deficiencies
How do you know if you have a vitamin deficiency? Your doctor or a health and wellness expert within the BodyLogicMD network can test and monitor your vitamin D and other vitamin levels via simple blood tests.
- Children (including toddlers and infants)
- People who are overweight
- People who are seriously ill
- Older people
- Women who are pregnant/lactating
Some of the most common deficiencies include those related to vitamin A, various B vitamins, and vitamin D.
According to The Mayo Clinic, vegetarians and vegans, alcohol drinkers, people with intestinal issues and medical conditions, and those with prescription medications are also at risk of deficiency.
Eating Well & Living Healthfully
To get the vitamins and minerals you’ll need, focus on eating a well-rounded, healthy diet. You’ll want to get lots of fruits, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, grains, berries, oily fish, and eggs.
It’s also important that you stay away from processed foods—think sugary cereals, foods with added sugars and high-fructose corn syrup, and anything with artificial ingredients, like preservatives and colorants. Processed foods contain little to no essential nutrients and vitamins, which is why they’re referred to as empty calories.
In short, supplements should be helpful additions to an already healthy and balanced diet.
If you are feeling unwell or perhaps believe you may have a vitamin deficiency, it’s also important that you get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and employ a daily stress-reduction ritual. This way, your body has the things it needs to really flourish and thrive. You can take all the supplements under the sun, but if you’re not holistically caring for your body and mind, you won’t experience true wellness.
The health and wellness experts within the BodyLogicMD network can discuss any supplement-related questions you may have. They can take a look at your unique situation and work with you to create a healthy and safe supplement regimen customized for your specific needs.
If you are looking for supplements that are made with the utmost care—by manufacturers who employ the best techniques and use only the best ingredients—shop BodyLogicMD.
Dr. Jennifer Landa is Chief Medical Officer of BodyLogicMD and the owner and operator of BodyLogicMD of Orlando. Dr. Landa dedicates her practice to bioidentical hormone therapy, customized nutrition and fitness programs to help women and men resolve menopausal and andropausal symptoms, including weight gain, sexual dysfunction, declining energy levels and stress. As a former gynaecologist, Dr. Landa has always desired to help patients achieve wellness through hormone balance and preventive medicine.