by Katelyn Schwanke
(last updated September 5, 2008)
There has been so much debate on which vitamins are best for which age group, gender or ailment it is almost impossible to choose on your own. As you consider which vitamin or multi-vitamin to take, you should consider several factors including the newly revised food pyramid, gender, age and your current stage in life.
A new food pyramid was recently distributed by the United States Department of Agriculture; the food pyramid offers a specific menu according to your height, weight, age and activity level that will allow you to get all the essential nutrients you need from food sources. The food pyramid should be your baseline for eating and for getting all your vitamins, however, it is nearly impossible for everyone to get exactly what they need from food. It is important to always remember that food sources are almost always a better source of vitamins and minerals. The vitamins available in food absorbs more readily than do those in supplements.
Busy schedules and specific illnesses will require that you take supplements. Those with goiters should take iodine, while others may need to take vitamin K to increase their blood's ability to clot properly. You should seek your doctor's advice for illness and avoid self diagnosing. If you choose to take vitamins due to a lack of time for food preparation there are a few basic guidelines that can be followed without the direct advice of a medical professional which we will discuss.
The first item to consider is your gender and age group; women should be concerned about osteoporosis while men should focus a bit more on the prevention of prostate cancer. Which vitamins help with the prevention of these diseases? Vitamin D will help with both of these, with an added supplement of calcium and weight bearing exercise for middle aged women. Younger women, specifically those in viable child bearing years, should be taking folate, or folic acid, to prevent a tragic birth defect referred to as spina bifida.
There is no harm in taking multi vitamins, except if you exceed the tolerable upper level intake (UL). The tolerable upper level is a guide offered by the Food and Drug Administration to prevent vitamin toxicity; the UL is accessible online or at your local pharmacy and should be considered when you decide to supplement your daily multivitamin with an additional source of another vitamin.
If you carefully consider your particular need for vitamins, you will have better health and more energy.