As physicians, we often get asked, “What vitamins should I take?” Nothing in life is simple. It turns out that most people benefit from taking the right nutritional supplements but the answer about which vitamins they should take varies depending on the person.
It turns out that taking a personalized approach to vitamins makes the most sense for many reasons. In considering what vitamins to take you to need personalized vitamins because:
- We are all different. We do not eat the same, live the same or have the same vitamin needs. For example, the vegetarian may need to take more iron than the person who eats red meat every day.
- Who you are may help determine your vitamin needs. A young woman who is actively preparing to get pregnant may need to take more folic acid than the average person.
- Taking the wrong vitamins can be harmful if you do not need them. Vitamin A is a vitamin found in many generic multivitamins. However, most of us are not vitamin A deficient. Taking supplemental vitamin A has been associated with cancer and osteoporosis. If you are not someone who needs this vitamin based on your diet and lifestyle, why take it?
- Taking the right vitamins based on your lifestyle can help you feel your best. Certain nutrients are even more important for those who exercise vigorously— magnesium and other key electrolytes help with muscle recovery and to prevent muscle cramping.
- Your family history can help you focus on the conditions you want to prevent. Things like Osteoporosis and heart disease can be addressed with certain key vitamins. Taking the right supplements can help prevent these conditions along with lifestyle modifications.
- Taking the right vitamins can help address specific concerns you may have such as migraine headaches or thinning hair. Many people do not realize that these are complaints that may be caused by certain vitamin deficiencies.
- Taking the wrong doses of each vitamin can be harmful to your health. For example, taking too much calcium can lead to kidney stones and possibly even and association with heart disease and stroke. Many people can get the majority of their calcium needs through diet, but this needs to be determined by asking the right questions about your diet (take our vitamin quiz here).
- Taking personalized vitamins can ensure that you get exactly what you need and only what you need. In certain situations, personalized vitamins are doctor created (take our vitamin survey here) and based on a series of questions a doctor might ask you to help determine your exact needs.
- One size fits all vitamins assumes that we are all exactly the same. It does not make sense that we would all have the same nutritional deficiencies. Even where we live impacts our vitamin needs—- people living in California get more sun exposure and often need less Vitamin D than those living in temperate climates.
- Taking the right vitamins determined by a vitamin quiz is the best way to tailor your vitamin regimen to your diet, lifestyle, and symptoms. We are not all the same. Personalized vitamins take your individual needs into account so that you can do the best thing to listen to your body.
Arielle Levitan M.D.
Co-founder Vous Vitamin LLC
Author of The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear the Confusion About Vitamins and Your Health