With so many supplements on the market, it can be hard to decide which you should be taking.
In a perfect world, you'd get all of your nutrition via a balanced diet. But, sadly... we don’t live in a perfect world. So in some cases, supplementation can be vital. For example, for groups at risk of deficiency.
Vitamins and minerals are required for the body to function, and some are considered “essential.” This basically means that you need to consume them in small quantities each day.
Vitamins and minerals have specific functions that help the body work properly. If you know that you’re deficient in a particular nutrient, then ensure that you purchase high-quality supplements.
A lot of the products on the market contain unnecessary additives and fillers. Additionally, there are some supplements on the market that contain excessive amounts of vitamins or minerals, which can be dangerous, since high-dose supplementation can overload the body.
If you’re looking for the best supplements for you, then take some time to do your homework. In this article, we’ll explore the 13 plus essential vitamins and minerals; how they impact you and the planet at large; what vitamins and minerals to consume daily; and how taking a bunch of vitamins and minerals haphazardly can be detrimental to health.
People often ask...
How Do I Know What Vitamins I Should Be Taking?
While it would be nice to have a one-size-fits-all guide, what vitamins and how much depends on several factors. Including gender, age, season and health status.
Therefore, if you know what you’re going through in life, be it pregnancy, menopause or old age, you’ll begin to understand what additional nutrients are needed.
Here’s a quick guide on possible additional vitamins to take during major life events:
- Stress – magnesium, B complex, CoQ10, and ashwagandha
- Menopause – vitamin B6, isoflavones, calcium, zinc and magnesium
- Pregnancy & conception – folic acid, iron, and vitamin D
- Seniors – B complex, vitamin D, vitamin C, Omega 3 fatty acids, CoQ10
- Infants – omega-3, vitamin A, C and D
The 13+ Essential Vitamins and Minerals
Other than enzymes, vitamins and minerals are two groups of nutrients that your body needs.
Vitamins A, C, D, E, K, as well as the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, B6, B12, and folate) are considered “essential.”
I’d also like to throw in a few bonuses: omega-3 fatty acids are also essential, especially for the protection of cells. And sodium (salt) is critical for optimal hydration, alongside other electrolytes like magnesium, potassium and calcium.
The British Nutrition Foundation recently published a paper, titled Healthier and more sustainable diets: what changes are needed in high-income countries? This paper looks at 29 studies that research the impact that diet and nutrition have on both our individual health, and that of the planet as a whole.
If we can restructure our approach to diet and nutrition, then we’ll be able to use the land more efficiently and boost health and wellbeing.
The Best Vitamins to Take Daily
During the summer months in the UK, you’ll most likely get enough vitamin D from the sun. But when the days get shorter in September through till early April, most people in the UK will need to supplement their diet with vitamin D. Especially if you’re vegan or vegetarian.
Taking a vitamin D supplement during the autumn and winter months will ensure that your vitamin D reserves are topped up.
Very young people (babies and young children) and the elderly have an increased risk of developing a deficiency. As such, they (and their carers) should take care to keep their vitamin and mineral levels at optimal levels.
In particular, the NHS advises that infants aged 6 months to 5 years take daily supplements that contain vitamins A, C and D. Folic acid and vitamin D are both vitamins that those conceiving or pregnant are advised to take. While vitamin B12 is an essential supplement for vegans.
The Bottom Line
While there are some processed foods that are fortified with vitamins, generally they’re not the best source as you don’t know the actual micrograms of the vitamin.
Whole foods are the best place to turn to for optimal nutrition. If that’s not possible, or diet is restricted for any reason, vitamin supplements can be a good option.
There are many stages of life that call for upping the intake of nutrients. Such as taking vitamin C during the cold and flu season or taking vitamin D during pregnancy.
Not all vitamins and minerals are stored in the body, therefore it’s important to consume the correct amount of each nutrient daily.
Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification and personal development.
Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.
Sodium is critical for optimal hydration, alongside other electrolytes like magnesium, potassium and calcium.