A vitamin is defined as an organic chemical compound that is needed in small amounts to sustain life and is not produced in sufficient amounts by the human body to sustain it. Vitamins, therefore, have to be eaten or ingested. Humans need 13 essential vitamins to function and stay healthy. They are either fat-soluble or water-soluble.
Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body’s fatty tissues and the liver, and they can be stored for days or even months. Water-soluble vitamins are linked to water and aren’t stored in the body for long, but get excreted with urine. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble while Vitamin C and the B complex are water-soluble.
How many vitamins should somebody take?
Ideally, people should get the vitamins they need from their food. People who follow a balanced diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will not need a multivitamin that has more than 100 percent of the recommended daily intake of the vitamins. That is especially true of the fat-soluble vitamins, which can become toxic if too many of them build up in the body. Excess water-soluble vitamins get excreted with urine. So people should not buy or take more vitamins than they need, for it is wasteful at best.
What is the Recommended Daily Intake and the Percent Daily Value?
The Recommended Daily Intake, which used to be called the Recommended Daily Allowance, describes the amount of a vitamin or other nutrient that 97 – 98 percent of healthy people in the US need to stay healthy.
The Daily Value is a simplified version of the RDI that does not take items like age or sex into account. Percent Daily Value describes how much of a vitamin is present in a given supplement. If the label reads 50%, for instance, a single dose of the supplement contains 50% of the vitamin in question. Either the Percent Daily Value or the Recommended Daily Intake will be on the label.
What else is going to be on a vitamin label?
The label will have other important information including:
- Serving Size: This indicates how many tablets or doses are needed to reach the Percent Daily Value.
- Scientific units: These are various ways of measuring the amount of vitamins in a single dose. IU stands for International unit; mg stands for milligram, and mcg stands for microgram.
- Expiration Date: This tells the consumer when the vitamins have lost potency. They may still be safe to take, but they will no longer meet their stated PDV.
- Warnings: These will alert the consumer to potential adverse effects. Pregnant women, nursing mothers, people taking prescription medication, and people with allergies should pay particular attention to warnings.
Does anybody need extra nutrients?
Even with a balanced diet, the following groups should consider taking vitamins to make certain they get their RDI:
- Women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant should get plenty of folic acid, also known as folate or Vitamin B9, for it can prevent birth defects.
- Adults over 50 and vegans need to get plenty of Vitamin B12.
- Older adults, people who get little sun, and people with dark skin need to either take Vitamin D or make certain their diet provides Vitamin D.
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