Vitamins: To Take or Not To Take?

Hamlet questioning the existence of vitamins

Since on this website, most of the commercialized products are vitamins and supplements, you may find that we have a biased answer. I promise you that will not be the case. We genuinely want to help you make the best decision for you, not only sale (that’s exactly what a salesman would say, I know, I guess you’ll have to trust).

What are Vitamins?

First of all, let’s start with the basics. Vitamins are organic substances which the body needs in small quantities. Vitamins are indispensable for the functioning of the organism. They are essential for the maintenance of a healthy immune system, good functioning of the metabolism, and growth.

Due to their importance in the regulation of metabolic processes, when they are ingested in insufficient quantities, or when the organism presents some vitamin deficiency, this can bring serious health risks, such as vision, muscular or neurological problems.

As the organism is incapable of synthesising vitamins, they must be ingested through food, and it is very important to eat a balanced diet, rich in vegetables and varied sources of protein.

Ok, so are you saying that if I have a balanced and complete diet, I don’t need vitamins?

The answer is, it depends.

In case you are a fully-growth individual, with an excellent balanced diet, that is not pregnant and has no health conditions such as osteoporosis, anemia, Chron’s disease among others, or any dietary restrictions such as a vegan, vegetarian, and live in a country that you can see the sunshine all year round, then yes, you don’t need to take vitamins.

The rest of us, mortals, might take advantage of some vitamin intake.

Who vitamins are recommended for?

Before we start our list, we must mention that you should seek medical advice before self-medicating.

With that said, vitamins are recommended for anyone that fits the conditions mentioned above. For example:

  • Pregnant women: In the first trimester, every woman should take folic acid to prevent neural tube defects in the foetus.
  • Babies and children: Babies exclusively breastfed should take 400 units of vitamin D daily from birth until they start receiving milk fortified with this micronutrient. From four months of age, iron supplements are required until the adoption of diets containing this mineral (generally after six months of age).
  • Adults: After the age of 50, some women and men may have difficulty absorbing vitamin B12.

That to mention just the natural conditions of our species. If you go through a vegan diet, you’ll have trouble finding food rich in vitamin B12, essential for energy, memory and to prevent heart disease.

Other conditions that require supplementation with vitamins:

What vitamins should I take?

If you don’t fit in any of the above conditions and have a daily balanced diet, eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains, oilseeds, good fats such as olive oil and salmon, and lean proteins, firstly, congratulations! Then, if you live in the UK, Ireland, or even Europe in general you might want to supplement with vitamin D since during the winter we don’t get enough vitamin D from sunlight. As we are talking about Vitamin D and sunlight, it is recommended a few minutes of sunlight from around late March to the end of September, especially from 11 am to 3 pm.

Vitamins recommended daily intake

Again, the answer varies according to the vitamin and the condition. For general purposes see the below table:

Source: UK Government (NHS), 2016

Although, it is important to note that it is not recommended to exceed the values shown above, since high doses of vitamins are dangerous and should be monitored by a doctor.

Conclusion

Almost everyone can benefit from vitamin intake. Vitamins can assist with all the functions of the human body and are mandatory for a healthy diet, whether you get it from food or supplements.

General 21st century lifestyle consists of little or no exercise at all, processed foods, food loaded with hormones, pollution, and stress. A huge part of the population spends the day sitting, working in an office in front of a computer screen. Our lives are indoor, especially during the winter and even more on Covid times. We choose food that is quickly made and we eat in a rush to get back to the job. This can’t be helpful for the human body.

Although, vitamins don’t do miracles. One should seek a more active lifestyle and a healthy and balanced diet. Along with these, then, yes, vitamins can be very helpful. When buying vitamins and/or supplements, always look for the ones that are more natural and less synthetic. Check on the internet for reviews and comments about the product you want to buy and, if not sure, always seek medical advice.

Our goal here at Pumpernickel is to help and assist you. Pumpernickel’s owner has more than 20 years of health and nutrition experience supported by a Biological Science Degree. Along with our products, we offer a health consultation, to understand your needs and recommend you the best range of products.

We hope that we’ve helped you and we wish you good shopping!

Leave a comment down below so we can extend our conversation and contact us if you have any questions.