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What Vitamins Should I Be Taking?

Published: October 3, 2009
Dear TeenHealthFX,
I am 19 years old and wanted to start taking vitamins but I am not sure what to take and what is good for my body? Thank you
Signed: What Vitamins Should I Be Taking?

Dear What Vitamins Should I Be Taking?,

 

Vitamins  

It is generally safe for most children, teens, and young adults to take a multivitamin product. If you are going to take a multivitamin, try and find a brand without sugar and sugar substitutes and consult with your primary care physician to find out if the brand you have chosen is appropriate or if he/she has a specific brand to recommend.

Generally, safe doses for vitamins and minerals have been established and are called Dietary Reference Intakes (formerly known as RDAs or Recommended Daily Allowances). There is a Dietary Reference Intakes on Vitamins. However, it is important to know that these levels only specify what is needed to avoid deficiencies and major health problems – it is still unclear as to what the ideal level of each nutrient is for each person for optimal health. 

FX also wants our readers to know that there is such thing as taking too much of a vitamin. Some vitamins, such as vitamin A, can cause obvious symptoms when dosing it too high, such as headaches. Other vitamins can cause internal metabolic problems that won’t be evident until much later. A genera list of vitamin side-effects can be found at the EMedicine webpage Toxicity, Vitamin

Vitamin Waters

Most people do not significantly benefit from all of these newer high-priced vitamin waters. Many of these drinks contain large amounts of sugar and salt, and actually have very little amounts of vitamins. In addition, these vitamin drinks are not regulated by the government as medicines, but as food – so there is really no way to know what health benefit or harm may result from drinking them. Rather than going for these vitamin drinks, FX recommends that you stick to plain drinking water – you will get more out of it than you think.  

TeenHealthFX does not endorse any particular brands, but if you are curious you can see a list of Sport Drinks: Winners and Losers presented by ABC News, Good Morning America to get a sense of what drinks their experts thought you should go for and steer clear of.

Lifestyle

Ideally, it is best to get all of your needed nutrients from eating a healthy, well-balanced diet rather than depending on vitamins. This includes eating the healthy types of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. To really thrive, getting a decent amount of sleep and getting regular exercise are also important. 

What FX wants to stress here is that if you are putting the time into researching good vitamins, then also make sure you are investing time into ensuring that you are maintaining a healthy diet, getting enough exercise, and getting a sufficient amount of sleep every night. Think of vitamins as a kind of back-up plan against deficiencies and as a tool for optimal health rather than a replacement for healthy eating. Remember that your body does not absorb the healthy nutrients from vitamins in the same way it does from actual foods – so it is very important to include foods in your diet that are rich in valuable vitamins and nutrients. 

Visit Inside the Pyramid to learn more about the foods you want to incorporate into your diet, and MyPyramid Plan to get an idea of the health benefits and nutrients in different food types. . 

Supplements

The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend that children and teens under the age of 18 use any kind of supplements for the purpose of fitness, body building, or weight control. The components of some of the supplements may pose a danger to the kidneys, liver, and heart. Some even have steroids in them, and others have been loaded up with dangerous amount of ephedra, an herbal stimulant.   

“Natural Health” Products and Supplements

Discuss with your health care provider any natural health products you would like to take, especially if you are taking any kind of prescription medication, so that you can ensure proper use of the supplement. Any supplement – nutritional supplement or herbal products – can interfere with prescription medication. 

 

For more information go to Teen Health: Vitamins and Minerals, Vitamin Chart, and Mineral Chart.

Again, speak with your doctor about the multivitamin choice that is right for you. If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-6475 for an appointment or contact your local teen health center. You can also contact your insurance company for a list of in-network providers. 

Signed: TeenHealthFX

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