Ever since we are kids we are constantly asked, “Have you taken your vitamins yet?” It is a popular belief that a lack, or deficit, of vitamins, can cause you to be sick, damage your skin and nails, and even affect your vision. Now a day, vitamins can be found in the grocery and pharmacy aisle, readily available for anyone in need of vitamin supplementation. But how effective are vitamins, and do we really need them even if we follow a healthy diet?
First things first: our body does not create vitamins; thus, we need to find a way to obtain them through our diet or through supplementation. Vitamin C, for example, is obtained through the consumption of citrus fruits and vegetables; nevertheless, certain groups of people have trouble getting Vitamin C. According to the National Institute of Health, these groups of people include smokers and secondhand smokers, infants who are fed with cow’s milk, people consuming a limited variety of food, and those with medical conditions. A lack of Vitamin C can cause fatigue, joint pain, poor wound healing, and inflammation, amongst other symptoms. Similarly, it may cause difficulty to fight off diseases affecting the immune system.
Adequate amounts of Vitamin C can help our bodies wear of the cold and, according to the American Optometric Association, also supports healthy blood vessels in the eye. Vitamin C promotes healthy gums, teeth, and cartilage, and promotes the absorption of iron in the body. Adequate amounts of Vitamin C should not be confused with high amounts of Vitamin C. High amounts can cause a negative effect on the body, including an iron overdose.
Is consuming vitamins, specifically Vitamin C, beneficial for our bodies? Absolutely. Even if your diet is balanced with enough fruits and vegetables, Vitamin C can be lost during the cooking or storage process, thus not supplying your body with adequate amounts. It is important to keep track of the Vitamin C you are consuming as well as the symptoms that pertain to both deficit and overuse. Always consult a doctor or health physician before taking any nutritional changes that may affect your eating habits and/or health.