All of a sudden, many people I come across are taking multivitamins for good health. The intention is, perhaps, to keep the flus at bay and to fortify general health. Nevertheless, it surprised me with a tinge of concern. Let us analyse together why and when one should take multivitamins and what are the side effects of a generally harmless, multivitamin.
Multivitamins are nothing lesser than a prescribed drug or medication. As the name suggests, they are a combination of all the essential vitamins we get from different food sources. When your staple diet fails to provide you with the vitamins you need you may end up with vitamin deficiencies. Or conditions like pregnancy, digestive disorders, or any illnesses may land you in a dire need of vitamins forcing your doctor to prescribe you multivitamin supplements. Many people administer multivitamins during their weight loss programme to make sure that they get optimal nutrition even when they are dieting. Some others who know that multivitamins play a significant role in preventing chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis also take an additional supply of multivitamins.Though multivitamins are not considered to be harmful they are not completely safe. Latest studies show that not all multivitamin supplements are quality ones and may not work to improve health. The quality concern is because of the fact that FDA does not consider multivitamin as a “drug” but as a “food”.
An overdose of multivitamin may serious health issues including stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite, hair loss, peeling skin, tingly feeling in or around mouth, change in menstrual periods, weight loss, severe headache, muscle or joint pain, severe back pain, blood in urine, pale skin, and easy bruising or bleeding. A quick glance through the list below may provide sufficient information to buy and use multivitamins.
The Dos and Don’ts
Do not take multivitamins without consulting with your doctor first.
It is not wise to buy the costliest or the most popular only because it is a national brand or that it has better claims. Cheap doesn’t mean bad. It is better to get one prescribed.
It is highly recommended that you buy a multivitamin that is closer to 100% of Recommended Daily Allowance. Avoid having those lesser than that as they are highly undesirable and higher than that is necessarily flushed out of your system.
Read the labels. If your supplement claims to have any ingredients you do not know about, don’t use it. It may not give you any desired effect. So ask your pharmacist or nurse.
Do not take multivitamins if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant without the knowledge of your health care provider.
Do not take more than one multivitamin product at the same time unless recommended by your doctor.
Fresh multivitamins are those to look for. They are not drugs do not mean you don’t have to follow their expiry dates.
Do check the expiration date on any vitamins you buy. They will become ineffective over time and are best used when fresh. Store in a cool, dark, dry place.
Taking vitamins does not give you the freedom to eat less nutritious food. A balanced meal and healthy lifestyle are equally important for good immunity and great health.
Ask an expert on when to take your daily dose as some vitamins are found to be best absorbed on an empty stomach.
Additionally, don’t take multivitamins only for chloride, phosphorus, and potassium. Your food offers them in plenty in the form of salt, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Also, don’t worry for boron, nickel, silicon, tin, and vanadium. Why? Humans don’t need them!
-Aparna K V
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