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Odds are, you have at least a little experience with taking vitamins or supplements – even if the last time you took a vitamin was shaped like a cartoon family. With as many products as there are on the market, it can be intimidating to know which ones you need, and which ones to stay away from. This process is made even more complicated by contradicting information and false-advertisement, but there is a way for you to know you are taking the right vitamins and supplements.

The key is to know what essential vitamins and nutrients you need to look out for. In order to do this, you should carefully assess your diet and lifestyle and pay attention to what nutrients you may not be consuming enough of. Remember that vitamins and supplements aren’t meant to be a replacement for fruits and vegetables. Fresh produce offers the antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fiber in which your body needs. Supplements and vitamins are simply an addition to ensure your body is retaining all of the nutrients in which it needs.

Know Your Essential Vitamins and Minerals

Most simply put, vitamins are essential organic substances your body’s cells need to function, grow, develop and heal properly. There are 13 essential vitamins – A, C, D, E, K, and the B vitamins, B6, B12, biotin, folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and thiamine. A deficiency in any of these vitamins can lead to serious health issues.

Along with the essential vitamins, there are 16 essential minerals, all of which you’ll recognize from the periodic table. Macrominerals are the minerals that your body needs in relatively large amounts, while trace minerals are needed in small amounts. The essential macrominerals are calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and sulfur. The trace minerals are iron, zinc, iodine, chromium, copper, fluoride, molybdenum, manganese, and selenium.

How to Assess Your Diet

The US Food and Drug Administration sets a Recommended Daily Intake for the essential nutrients to help people manage their nutrition.

The RDI is simply how much nutrient is needed each day for healthy adults. This obviously varies from person to person, depending on diet, lifestyle, and health factors. The nutrition labels on foods also list the nutrients they contain, as well as the percentage of your RDI for each particular nutrient.

One way to measure what vitamins and supplements to take is to look carefully at the nutrition; value of all the foods in your diet and see how close you come to the RDI. From there you can assess if you’re consuming too much or too little or a particular vitamin or mineral.

If you have a diet that is particularly low or high in certain foods, you could be getting too much or too little of certain nutrients. For example, B12 is commonly found in meats, poultry, eggs, and milk products. This being said, if you eat a plant-based diet, this may be a supplement that you need to take.

While the RDI can be a great starting benchmark, it isn’t the do-all-be-all of health. Depending on your body size, physical activity, health goals or issues, the RDI may be lower than your actual needs.

Factors like gender, age, fitness level, or even your geographical location can mean you need more or less of a certain nutrient. For example, women entering their 50s may need more bone strengthening vitamins to protect against osteoporosis, while women who are pregnant may need more folate or iron.

Depending on your long-term or short-term health goals, more or less of a certain vitamin may be necessary. Evaluate your daily life, your goals, your family history, and your current needs to see what vitamins and supplements may fit your needs best. However, taking too many of the wrong supplements can also be severely detrimental to your health.

Even the most health-savvy individuals could use professional guidance. Consulting with your doctor or medical professional could also be a great way to pin-point the best vitamin and supplements for you.

Getting a functional health report and labs is one of the most accurate approaches to navigating your supplement journey. Lab results don’t lie, and can give your medical professional a clear understanding of the best vitamins and supplements to improve your health.

You can sign up for an in person or virtual consult with Deep Relief professionals here. We’ll look at your current lab results, run a functional health report, and help guide you towards the right vitamins and supplements for you.