In one of my recent articles I stated that I did not think multi vitamins were necessary. I also said that it was very difficult to overdose on vitamins from food alone and that overdosing is normally the result of excessive vitamin supplement consumption. After reading these articles you probably think I am completely against the consumption of vitamin supplements. However, this is not the case. Whilst I am generally against multi vitamin supplements (for the reasons discussed in my article) I do feel that other vitamin supplements are valuable tools in certain situations. In this article I will be discussing four factors that can make vitamin supplementation necessary.
1) ALCOHOLISM:- Alcoholism and heavy alcohol consumption can lead to a person becoming deficient in any of the thirteen vitamins. This is sometimes due to the poor diet consumed by alcoholics but generally a result of organ damage that is caused by excessive alcohol consumption. Whilst I do not think vitamin supplements should be used to support heavy drinking they can be useful tools for recovering alcoholics. They may also be necessary for alcoholics who have suffered permanent damage to their liver, pancreas or intestinal tract, all of which make it more difficult for the body to absorb vitamins.
2) DISEASES AND GENETIC DISORDERS:- There are a number of diseases and genetic disorders that can affect your body’s ability to absorb vitamins. Stomach problems can lead to a vitamin B12 deficiency because absorption of this vitamin requires a substance called intrinsic factor to be present in the intestine. If you have a problem with your stomach that inhibits the production of intrinsic fact then you may not be able to absorb enough vitamin B12 even if you are consuming the recommended daily allowance (RDA) through your diet. Cancer, chron’s disease and liver disease are other conditions that can contribute to a vitamin deficiency. Therefore, if you suffer from any conditions that affect your body’s ability to use vitamins you may need to take advantage of vitamin supplements.
3) MEDICATIONS:- There are a number of medications that can interfere with vitamin absorption. Certain antibiotics can destroy the bacteria responsible for producing vitamin B7 and vitamin K and this may contribute to a deficiency. Oral contraceptives and painkillers can impair your body’s ability to absorb vitamin B9. Anticoagulants (medicines that thin the blood and prevent it from clotting) can also inhibit the absorption of vitamin K. Therefore, if you are using any of the above medications you may need to supplement your diet with certain vitamins.
4) PREGNANCY:- During pregnancy your vitamin requirements will be increased. Not only will you need to get enough vitamins for yourself but you will also need to consume enough for your growing baby. Sometimes diet alone may not be enough to get the required vitamins for the two of you. In these situations vitamin supplements may be required.
Overall, I believe that diet should be the first choice when it comes to getting your vitamins. Supplements should not be used as an excuse for poor eating habits. However, I understand there are factors that can compromise your ability to get the required levels of vitamins from the foods you eat. In these situations vitamin supplements are useful and may even be necessary.
If you do think that you need vitamin supplements, go talk to your doctor first. As I have discussed previously you can overdose on vitamins and in most cases supplements are the cause. Your doctor will be able to advise you on which (if any) vitamin supplements you need based on your current health and any medications you are currently taking. Using this advice you can then get the vitamin supplementation you need without over doing it.
What do you guys think? Are there any other factors I have missed that may make vitamin supplementation necessary? Do you always try and get your vitamins from food sources?