Happy National Vitamin Day!

Today is National Vitamin Day, and whether you are a diligent vitamin taker or are thinking about starting a vitamin regiment, here are a few good reminders about what vitamins can and can't do for us.

Vitamins don't beat out bad habits. No one vitamin can protect us from all disease-causing elements in the world. It's important that we don't rely on vitamins so much that we skip the nutrition we get from a well-balanced diet.

You can't "double up" on vitamins for an extra boost. Our bodies can only process so many nutrients at once. And once they've been met, our bodies cannot take in anymore. In fact, doubling up can even be harmful. Too much calcium, for example, can cause kidney stones and may even increase the risk for heart attacks.

Food is the best source for nutrients. Vitamins should be exactly what they are - a supplement. What we put on our plates should be our main intake of the nutrients we need; only then should we supplement with other vitamin nutrients if we need them. What vitamins can be useful for is the intake of specific nutrients. Whereas fruits and vegetables contain lots of nutrients together, we can increase our consumption of a specific nutrient through vitamins.

You really already have what you need. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just released a study that found more than 90 percent of Americans already consume the recommended levels of several essential nutrients, such as vitamins A and D and folate. So don't think you're automatically deprived of certain nutrients.

However, you still likely need to supplement certain vitamins and minerals. The CDC also found that women ages 20 to 39 have the lowest intake of iodine, and African- and Mexican-Americans likely fall short on vitamin D.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.



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