Vitamin Dietary Supplements – Understanding the Basics

Vitamin dietary supplements form one of the largest categories of global supplement sales that are reportedly set to reach $180 billion by the end of 2009.

Whilst this trend is set to increase, we really need to know the “what”, “why” and “how” of supplements before we spend more of our hard-earned cash.

What Are Vitamin Dietary Supplements?

Well, it’s all in the name really! Vitamin dietary supplements are tablets, capsules, powders or liquids that provide (i.e., supplement) vitamins that may be lacking – or missing entirely – from your diet.

Vitamins are chemical compounds that occur in food and have been shown to be essential for life. Many of them can be produced in limited amounts in your body, but your main source of supply is the food that you eat.

Only small amounts are required to be effective, but even these small amounts are essential for maintaining your general health, preventing many diseases and, probably their most important function, releasing energy from the food that you eat.

Why take vitamin dietary supplements?

Despite ongoing campaigns by various governments, our diets don’t seem to be improving much. Our reliance on fast foods, junk foods and processed foods is increasing all the time.

Unfortunately, all these foods have reduced vitamin levels. Even fresh fruit and vegetables have less vitamin content that they used to due to modern farming techniques, so the answer for many people is to supplement their diet.

In addition to poor diet, supplements can prove beneficial for:

  • women of childbearing age
  • young children
  • adolescents
  • the elderly
  • vegetarians
  • those on a slimming programme
  • people on strict exercise programmes
  • people who smoke or drink excessively

In general, people only take vitamin dietary supplements for two reasons:

  1. To ensure they are getting optimal nutrition for a healthy life
  2. To address specific vitamin deficient health problems they may have

How to choose vitamin dietary supplements?

To overcome the confusion that can be caused by too much choice, you need to do some homework!

I know it’s easy to just grab a cheap pack of multi-vitamins whilst you’re in the supermarket, but how do you KNOW that they’re right for you & that you’re not wasting your money?

The starting point is with yourself. Take a close look – are you:

  • tired & run down
  • forgetful
  • suffering from poor hair, skin, nails and teeth
  • getting frequent colds
  • depressed or anxious
  • slow to heal

These are just a few of the symptoms that could be due to vitamin deficiencies (if you’d like to find out more about the signs of vitamin and mineral deficiency, I suggest you get my report listed in the resource box).

Once you’ve noted all the symptoms and which vitamins these relate to, you’ll have a list of what you need in the way of vitamin dietary supplements. (I strongly recommend you see a health professional at this stage to help guide you in your choices).

Now, here comes the tricky bit. You must learn to read and understand labels. Two packs of vitamin dietary supplements may look the same – apart from their price, but how do you know for sure?

You will also need to know the different units of measure and what the different terms (such as “buffered”, “low acid”, timed release” and “natural”) used on the label mean.

Plus, you need to know what RDA is and how it relates to you.

Once you have learned these (fairly) simple steps you’ll be well on the way to becoming an expert at choosing the right vitamin dietary supplements for your health.