What Vitamin Supplements Should I Take?
- Not everyone needs a supplement. Healthy people with a balanced diet often receive the necessary nutrients from their foods.
- Over-reliance on supplements can lead to nutrient overdose, leading to adverse effects.
- It’s crucial to consult with a registered dietitian or healthcare provider before starting any supplement regimen.
You may be asking, what vitamin supplements should I take?
We gathered the comprehensive data for you down below.
Here is a table summarizing the benefits of key vitamins and minerals:
|Nutrient||Benefits and Uses|
|Vitamin A||Supports vision, immune function, skin health, growth and development|
|B Vitamins||Support energy metabolism, brain function, hormone production, digestive health|
|Vitamin C||Potent antioxidant for immune health; aids collagen formation|
|Vitamin D||Aids calcium absorption and bone health; benefits immune, brain, heart, and cellular health|
|Vitamin E||Protects cells from oxidative damage as an antioxidant|
|Vitamin K||Essential for proper blood clotting|
|Calcium||Essential for bone health, nerve function, and muscle contraction|
|Iron||Enables red blood cell production and oxygen transport|
|Magnesium||Supports muscle, nerve, and immune function; involved in energy metabolism|
|Zinc||Important for immune function, growth, DNA, and protein production|
|Potassium||Required for fluid balance, nerve transmission, and muscle contraction|
|Selenium||Antioxidant that protects cells and aids thyroid function|
|Copper||Required for red blood cell and nerve production, immune function, and iron metabolism|
|Manganese||Aids bone development and metabolism of nutrients like carbohydrates and cholesterol|
|Iodine||An essential component of thyroid hormones that regulate growth and metabolism|
Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients that your body needs in small amounts to work properly and stay healthy. While you can get most of your required vitamins and minerals from eating a balanced diet, supplements can help fill any nutritional gaps.
There are 13 vitamins that your body needs: A, C, D, E, K, and the B vitamins (thiamine/B1, riboflavin/B2, niacin/B3, pantothenic acid/B5, pyridoxine/B6, biotin/B7, folate/folic acid/B9, and cobalamin/B12). The major dietary minerals include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, and sulfur. Trace minerals like iron, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese, fluoride, and iodine are also essential in smaller amounts.
Here is a table comparing some popular vitamin and mineral supplement brands in terms of market share, reputation, and dosage potency:
|Brand||Estimated Market Share||Reputation||Potency/Dosage|
|Centrum||10-15%||Well-known but moderate reputation||Mainly 100% DV|
|Nature Made||5-10%||Good Reputation||Mainly 100% DV|
|Vitafusion||5-10%||Good reputation||Lower potency with around 40-50% DV|
|Kirkland||3-5%||Good value brand||Moderate to high potency with 100-200% DV|
|Rainbow Light||1-2%||Specializes in food-based and herbal blends||Lower or moderate potency|
|MegaFood||<1%||Uses food-based sources||Lower or moderate potency|
|Garden of Life||<1%||Focus on raw whole food sources||Mainly 100% DV|
|New Chapter||<1%||Fermented wholefood sources||Lower or moderate potency|
|Smarty Pants||<1%||Known for gummy vitamins||Lower potency with 25-35% DV|
|Optimum Nutrition Opti-Men||1-2%||Popular supplement brand||High potency with over 100% DV|
- Market share data based on supplements sold through retail channels.
- Reputation is subjective based on consumer reviews and expert input.
- Potency refers to % Daily Value (DV) provided per serving for key vitamins/minerals.
So what vitamin and mineral supplements should you consider taking? Read on for an in-depth overview of key nutrients, recommended daily intakes, dietary sources, deficiency symptoms, and when supplements may be beneficial for certain populations.
Fat-Soluble vs Water-Soluble Vitamins
There are two main types of vitamins – fat soluble and water soluble.
The four fat-soluble vitamins are A, D, E, and K. Because they dissolve in fat, these vitamins can be stored in the body for longer periods of time. The liver and fatty tissues act as storage depots for fat-soluble vitamins. This means you don’t need daily intake from food – your body can tap into reserves when needed. But this also means toxicity can occur if overconsumed.
In contrast, the water-soluble B vitamins and vitamin C cannot be stored in the body long-term. They need to be continually replenished through food sources. Because they dissolve in water, any excess amounts are excreted from the body through urine.
Key Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin A is important for eye health, immune function, skin health, growth, and development. The RDA for adults is 900 mcg RAE for men and 700 mcg RAE for women. Preformed vitamin A is found in animal sources like liver, fish, dairy, and eggs while provitamin A carotenoids are found in plant foods like carrots, squash, and leafy greens. Those who do not consume animal products may need occasional supplements to meet their needs.
The eight B vitamins support energy metabolism, brain function, hormone synthesis, digestive health, and more. They are widely available in whole grains, meat, dairy, eggs, nuts/seeds, beans, leafy greens, and some fruits. B12 may be low in those following strict plant-based diets, while folic acid tends to be low in older adults and heavy alcohol consumers.
Vitamin C functions as an antioxidant and is vital for immune health. The RDA is 75-90 mg per day. Citrus fruits, berries, cruciferous vegetables, tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers are rich sources. Smokers require an additional 35 mg per day due to increased oxidative stress.
Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption for bone health and may benefit the immune, brain, heart, and cellular health. Sunlight exposure is the best source. Older adults, those with dark skin, and people living in cloudy climates may need supplements to meet the 600 IU daily RDA.
Vitamin E protects against oxidative cell damage as an antioxidant. The RDA is 15 mg per day. Dietary sources include oils, nuts, seeds, leafy greens and some vegetables. Vitamin E deficiency is uncommon but can occur in those with malnutrition or fat absorption disorders.
Vitamin K is needed for blood clotting. The RDA is 120 mcg for men and 90 mcg for women. Sources include leafy greens, soybean oil, beef liver, fermented foods and some fruits and vegetables. Newborns are often given vitamin K injections as deficiency can lead to serious bleeding disorders.
Calcium is essential for bone health. The RDA is 1,000-1,200 mg per day for adults. Dairy products are excellent sources. Other sources include leafy greens, legumes, canned fish with bones, fortified foods, and calcium supplements. Those with lactose intolerance may require alternate calcium sources.
Iron enables red blood cell production and oxygen transport. Requirements are higher for menstruating women. Iron is found in meat, poultry, seafood, spinach, lentils, fortified cereals, and more. Iron supplements may be advised for those with deficiency anemia.
Magnesium assists muscle, nerve, and immune function. The RDA ranges from 310-420 mg daily. Magnesium is found in vegetables, grains, nuts/seeds, legumes, dairy and chlorophyll-rich foods. Magnesium deficiency is uncommon but supplements may be used as a laxative or for certain conditions.
Zinc benefits growth, immunity, and DNA synthesis. Oysters contain the most zinc. Other sources include red meat, poultry, seeds, legumes, dairy, and whole grains. Vegetarians and those with alcoholism are more prone to zinc deficiency. Supplements may be used short-term to treat deficiencies.
A standard multivitamin/mineral supplement can help provide a nutritional safety net and fill in any gaps in an otherwise well-rounded diet. They may be especially prudent for those eating a poor diet, following restrictive diets, or not consuming enough fruits, vegetables, and animal products. Standard multivitamins provide about 100% of the Daily Value for most vitamins and minerals, but avoid mega-doses of any single nutrient.
While a basic multivitamin helps meet general nutrition needs, targeted supplements may be advisable for:
Bone health: Calcium and vitamin D supplements can help reduce bone loss and fracture risk for those diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis.
Heart health: Omega-3 fatty acid supplements, especially those containing EPA and DHA, can support healthy triglyceride levels and blood pressure. Coenzyme Q10 may benefit congestive heart failure patients.
Anemia: Iron supplements can help treat iron-deficiency anemia. Folic acid supplements may improve anemia resulting from folate insufficiency.
Macular degeneration: High-dose supplements with antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, copper, and beta carotene may slow vision loss from age-related macular degeneration.
Immunity: Vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc and selenium supplements may enhance immune response, especially in those who are deficient. However, excessively high doses should be avoided.
Brain health: B vitamin supplements may support cognitive function in older adults. The most effective formulations contain folate, B6, and B12.
ADHD: Iron, magnesium, vitamin D, zinc, and omega-3 supplements may benefit some children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But more research is still needed.
Depression: Omega-3s may augment treatment in those with clinical depression. Folate and vitamin B12 supplements may also improve depressive symptoms in some cases.
Skin, hair, and nails: Biotin supplements are commonly marketed for hair, skin and nail benefits – but substantial research is lacking. Silica supplements may help strengthen nails.
Digestive health: Probiotic supplements containing healthy bacteria can aid digestion and immune function in those with gastrointestinal issues like IBS, ulcers, infectious diarrhea, and lactose intolerance.
- Choose reputable brands that adhere to supplement regulations and quality standards. Verify independent testing by organizations like ConsumerLab, NSF International or USP.
- For general health, a basic multivitamin/mineral supplement can help fill nutrition gaps without providing excessive doses of any nutrient. Avoid “mega-dose” products.
- Check the supplement facts label and avoid products that exceed the Tolerable Upper Intake Levels for vitamins and minerals.
- Take supplements with food whenever possible to increase absorption and reduce side effects like nausea or stomach upset.
- Speak with your doctor before taking supplements long term, especially if you have an underlying health condition or take prescription medications, as supplements can interact with medications.
Incorporating a wide variety of healthy foods into a balanced diet should provide sufficient vitamins and minerals without the need for supplementation for most healthy individuals. However, supplements can help insure against deficiencies for those concerned about specific nutrition gaps in their diet or with increased needs. Work with a healthcare professional to determine if certain supplements may benefit you based on your individual nutrition status and health goals.
What is the difference between fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins?
Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body’s fatty tissues, while water-soluble vitamins are not and need to be consumed more frequently.
Can I take all my vitamin supplements at once?
Some supplements may interfere with the absorption of others or cause stomach upset when taken on an empty stomach. Consult with a registered dietitian or healthcare provider for guidance.
Are there adverse effects to taking too many supplements?
Yes, especially with fat-soluble vitamins. Overdose can lead to toxicity and other health issues.
How do I know if I have a vitamin deficiency?
Symptoms vary depending on the vitamin. For instance, B12 deficiency can lead to fatigue and weakness. Blood tests and consultation with a doctor can confirm deficiencies.
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Note: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare provider before making decisions regarding supplements and nutrition.
- An analysis by Nutrition Business Journal estimated Centrum has 10-15% of the total vitamin and supplement market share (Nutrition Business Journal, 2021).
- An article on Grand View Research estimated the overall market shares of Centrum at 11%, Nature Made at 6%, and Vitafusion at 6% in 2019 (Grand View Research, 2019).
- Statista reported Centrum as having a 14% dollar share of the vitamin and supplement market in 2020 (Statista, 2020a).
- Another Statista report estimated Nature Made’s vitamin/supplement market share at 5.4% and Vitafusion’s at 5.1% for 2020 (Statista, 2020b).
- A MarketWatch article cited Nature Made as having around 6% market share based on data from Euromonitor (Schroeder, 2013).
Grand View Research. (2019). Dietary Supplements Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Ingredient (Vitamins, Minerals), By Form, By Application, By End User, By Distribution Channel, And Segment Forecasts, 2019 – 2025. https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/dietary-supplements-market
Nutrition Business Journal. (2021). Centrum Market Share of Vitamins and Minerals in the U.S. in 2020 and 2025. https://www.nbj.com/centrum-market-share-vitamins
Schroeder, J. (2013, May 15). Vitamin makers compete for a slice of supplement pie. MarketWatch. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/vitamin-makers-including-bayer-compete-for-slice-of-supplement-pie-2013-05-15
Statista. (2020a). Dollar sales share of leading vitamin brands in the United States in 2020. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1098968/dollar-sales-share-leading-vitamin-brands-us/
Statista. (2020b). Market share of the leading vitamin brands in the United States in 2020, based on sales. https://www.statista.com/statistics/448338/market-share-of-the-leading-vitamin-brands-in-the-united-states/