The human body is a magical machine that sustains life. The body needs several essential nutrients to maintain optimal function and is capable of producing most of them. However, some essential nutrients cannot be produced by our bodies naturally.
These nutrients can be absorbed by our body through our diet. A balanced diet consisting of fresh ingredients is capable of fulfilling the requirements our bodies need.
However, it’s no easy feat to get the nutrition we need from fresh food, as it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find the time to cook a fresh meal.
Dietary supplements are helpful in maintaining a steady supply of essential nutrients for people who are unable to meet them through diet.
What are vitamins?
Vitamins are essential micronutrients that our bodies need (in small amounts) to perform a variety of bodily functions and maintain one’s health. These vitamins cannot be produced by the body naturally and must be obtained through a balanced diet or by taking supplements.
Vitamin deficiency can lead to symptoms like fatigue, dry skin, poor wound healing, insomnia, etc. Chronic deficiency of specific vitamins can lead to diseases like beriberi, pellagra, scurvy, rickets, etc.
Vitamin supplements are among the most sought-after dietary supplements due to the increasing difficulty of maintaining the requirement through one’s daily diet and food consumption.
What are Vitamin Supplements?
Vitamin supplements are dietary supplements designed to meet the vitamin requirements of your body. They come in an array of options in terms of composition ranging from single to multivitamins.
Vitamin supplements are available for consumption in various forms like tablets, capsules, liquids, and gummies. They can be purchased over the counter without a prescription.
Vitamin supplements containing a single vitamin are generally taken to correct a certain vitamin deficiency. For example, B1 supplements may be taken to counter signs of beriberi.
They may also be taken to enhance a specific function. For example, folic acid supplements are used by women in the early stages of pregnancy for the healthy growth of the fetus.
Multivitamins are composed of multiple vitamins and minerals aimed at meeting the body’s daily vitamin needs. The composition of multivitamins differs from product to product. They are generally designed keeping the recommended daily intake of each vitamin in mind.
Vitamin supplements may be designed to meet partial requirements of common vitamins we consume through food and the full requirement of vitamins that are hard to incorporate into your daily diet. The composition of vitamins is sometimes also designed for a specific user type, like men, women, athletes, and older people.
Benefits of Taking Vitamin Supplements
Taking vitamin supplements has several benefits, including:
Supports overall health and wellness:
Vitamins are essential for the body to perform various functions like metabolism, hormonal regulation, cell regeneration, etc. Taking vitamin supplements can help ensure that your body is able to perform these functions optimally.
Aids in specific nutritional needs:
You may be facing specific nutritional deficiencies due to factors like age, health issues, lifestyle, or diet. For example, it is very difficult for vegetarians to get vitamin B12 from their diet. Multivitamins can help bridge this gap to meet your specific vitamin needs.
Improves energy levels:
Vitamins and minerals are crucial in helping our body produce energy. Vitamin B and iron, in particular, are essential for producing energy in cells. Having a sufficient supply of these vitamins and minerals can elevate energy levels.
Supports healthy aging:
Our body’s ability to absorb nutrients decreases with age. This causes an increased nutrient requirement, which can be offset by taking multivitamins.
Factors affecting how long it takes for vitamins to work
As a general rule, it takes 1-3 months for vitamin supplements to take effect when treating deficient levels. There are certain factors that determine how long it takes for vitamins to take effect, like:
Certain vitamins like A, E, D, and K are fat-soluble. This makes dietary fat necessary for these vitamins to be absorbed quickly. It would be wise to pair multivitamin supplements with omega-3 fatty acid supplements for complementary effects.
Your body may have some vitamin deficiencies as a result of your diet. For example, a vegan would be deficient in Vitamin D and B12, as these vitamins are predominantly found in animal sources. It might take longer for these vitamins to take effect.
Existing health issues:
Some issues like an inflamed bowel, or gut, can affect the absorption of these supplements. Other digestive issues could pose a similar threat as well.
Composition of the multivitamin supplement:
The composition of vitamin supplements differs from product to product. Supplements containing a single vitamin might act faster, as they seek to address a specific deficiency.
Multivitamin tablets, on the other hand, may take longer as they have a general composition that may not suit everyone’s vitamin needs.
Baseline level of vitamins:
The speed of a supplement’s effect depends heavily on your starting level of nutrition stores. If you are at a higher deficiency, it could take longer for your body to start benefiting from the vitamins.
Time Taken for Vitamin Supplements to Work
There are various factors, like health issues, age, choice of products, and your body’s base vitamin level, that can determine the time it takes for vitamin supplements to show effect.
It can take anywhere from a few hours to several weeks for vitamin supplements to start working. Here is a general guide:
The B vitamins are vital for producing energy in the body. They are easily absorbed by the body within a few hours of consuming them. The effects may start to show within a day or two.
Vitamin C plays a crucial role in controlling infections and healing wounds. It helps maintain the body’s immunity. It is a water-soluble vitamin and is absorbed quickly by the body. The effects may start showing within a few hours of taking the supplement.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps the body absorb other vital nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and phosphate in the intestines. It is absorbed gradually by the body, and the effects take anywhere between several weeks to several months to show.
Vitamin B-12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is vital for optimal metabolism. It is water soluble and the effects of supplementation start showing within a few weeks. However, if you are suffering from a deficiency, it may take several months to return to optimal levels.
Vitamin supplements can be a convenient and effective way to meet daily nutritional requirements, and improve overall health. This is especially useful if you suffer from a particular deficiency, or lack access to regular healthy, freshly cooked food.
It is important to be careful when choosing a multivitamin to consume. The composition varies from product to product, so consult with your doctor to understand which composition would be ideal for you.
It is also vital to remember that dietary supplements do not require approval from regulatory bodies, like the FDA, for production. It is, therefore, important to look for a well-reputed manufacturer who provides a seal of authenticity when you’re choosing a vitamin supplement.
Make sure you listen to your body’s needs and provide it with an adequate supply of nutrition so that you can live an optimal, healthy life.
Q: Are vitamin supplements safe?
Ans: Generally speaking, vitamin supplements are a safe and convenient option for fulfilling your nutritional requirements. However, it is always better to consult your doctor to understand your specific nutritional needs. This is especially the case if you have a pre-existing health condition, or are taking other medication.
Q: How much vitamin should you take?
Ans: The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) varies for each vitamin. This is also determined by factors like age, gender, and health conditions. Speak with your physician to understand what your specific requirements are.
Q: Can you take too much vitamin?
Ans: Yes, it is possible to exceed the optimal requirement of vitamins, which can lead to toxicity. This type of overdose can have adverse health effects, especially if you are taking additional medication that could have detrimental interactions with the vitamins you’re taking.
We recommend that you read through the RDA regulations and speak with your doctor before you pick a specific dosage. Vitamin supplements come with recommended dosages from the manufacturer, so that can be a good starting point for you to begin with.
Q: Are all vitamin supplements created equal?
Ans: Vitamin supplements vary from product to product, both in terms of composition and quality. It is important to understand your body’s nutrition requirements when it comes to choosing a particular composition. It is important to consider factors like the reputation of manufacturers and the seals of authenticity provided by independent bodies when selecting a product.
Ensure you choose a product from a well-reputed manufacturer that makes use of high-quality ingredients while choosing a vitamin supplement.
Q: Are vitamin supplements an absolute necessity?
Ans: Vitamin supplements aren’t a necessity, but a helpful alternative to meet your nutritional requirements. If you are able to meet your RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of nutrients from a well-balanced and freshly cooked meal, then you might not need to take vitamin supplements.