Vitamin and Nutritional Supplements
Vitamin and nutritional supplements do not guarantee good health, but they can certainly help you meet the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamins and minerals. If like many Americans, you find it difficult to obtain a complete and well-balanced daily diet, then you should consider taking supplements.
How much do you need?
If you do not have any deficiency for a particular nutrient, your body will usually absorb only about 10 percent to 15 percent of the nutrients from vitamin and nutritional supplements. The remaining 85 percent is excreted in your urine. This means that for every $10.00 you spend on vitamin and nutritional supplements, $8.50 of it can be going down the toilet.
Still, taking one multivitamin a day (a multivitamin that includes 100 percent of the RDA for vitamins and minerals) will not hurt, especially if you are consuming less than 1600 calories per day. However, nothing can replace a proper meal. Eating a balanced diet that meets the RDA is still the most effective way of obtaining all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients you need for a healthy body.
Recommended Dietary Allowances
Vitamin and nutritional supplements sold in the market can take the form of sole-vitamins (i.e. only vitamin C), or of multi-vitamins. Most multi-vitamins in the US contain only 100 percent of the RDA. The RDA includes 17 nutrients in particular amounts of dosages; these nutrients include vitamins A, C, D, E, B6, B12, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, folic acid (folacin), calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iodine, iron, selenium, and zinc. It can also include vitamin K, which aids in blood clotting, but is only available by prescription.
Higher dosages of vitamin and nutritional supplements that exceed 100% of the RDA–needed for countering deficiencies as determined by a physician–are usually sold as sole-vitamins or minerals.
Always remember that the Food and Drug Administration Board does not regulate the manufacture and sale of vitamin and nutritional supplements. Therefore, it is important to look for a nutritional supplement manufacturer that strictly complies with GMP standards. GMP-compliance assures you that a product is tested for cleanliness and is free of contaminants and prescription drugs. It also assures you that a product contains the right amount of ingredients and dosage, based on the Recommended Dietary Allowances and as indicated in the label.
You should also refrain from buying nutritional supplements that contain additives such as sugar, starch, gluten, silica, and artificial flavors or colors. Supplements from GMP-compliant manufacturers are free of such additives.
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