Supplement: Good multivitamin offers an easy, just-in-case form of health insurance. *Photo supplied
Supplement: Good multivitamin offers an easy, just-in-case form of health insurance. *Photo supplied

If you’ve ever stood in the pharmacy overwhelmed by the rows of vitamin supplements, you’re not alone. Knowing what vitamins, if any, you should take can be very confusing so here’s a quick list of the vitamin supplements everyone should consider.

Of course, before starting a vitamin regimen, talk it over with your doctor. He or she may have specific recommendations – or warnings – depending on your health and the other medicines you take. Also, your doctor or pharmacist can recommend the dosage you should be taking of each supplement based on your nutritional and lifestyle habits.

A Multivitamin

A good place to start with vitamin supplements is taking a multivitamin. Vitamins and minerals are essential to any diet in maintaining general health as well as potentially preventing cancer, heart disease and other health problems. Yet studies have shown that very few of us get enough nutrients from diet alone that’s why a good multivitamin offers an easy, just-in-case form of health insurance.

When choosing a multivitamin, look for 100 per cent of the daily value of the 13 essential vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin)
  • Pantothenic acid
  • Biotin
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B12
  • Folate (folic acid)

Remember with any vitamin that more is not better so take only the recommended dose.

The Calcium cocktail

Calcium is a necessary supplement for strong, healthy muscles, bones and teeth. To prevent any negative side effects of calcium, you need to take it with magnesium and to get the maximum benefit from calcium, it should be taken in combination with vitamin D, which will help the body absorb it.

Many times your multivitamin may already contain the vitamins from the calcium cocktail so make sure to read the labels on everything you are taking so that you’re not overlapping and taking more than you need. Take your calcium cocktail with a full glass of water, two hours after eating. Calcium can block the absorption of other supplements and prescriptions, so be sure to take it separately.

Fish Oil

Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids called DHA and EPA which offer many health benefits, especially for optimal functioning of the heart and brain. They reduce arterial inflammation, which can lower your risk for a heart attack. There are also studies showing that omega-3 fatty acids may help with other conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, depression and more.

Your doctor or pharmacist can recommend an adequate dosage depending on any health risks you have. If you experience “fishy burps” from fish oil, try taking it with breakfast and not on an empty stomach.

A candy vitamin?

One of the most popular trends in supplements is vitamin gummies for adults. For people who don’t like to swallow pills or the taste of chewable or liquid vitamins, they can try vitamin gummies. From multivitamins to omega-3 fatty acids, a wide variety of supplements are available as gummies. The trick is to make sure and chew the gummies before swallowing and to stick to the recommended dosage. Since they taste just like the popular candy, these vitamin gummies can tempt you into taking too much.

So the next time you’re in the vitamin aisle confused and overwhelmed, just go with the basics and build your vitamin regimen from there based on your doctor’s advice.

Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association. For helpful information, visit Lindo’s at www.lindos.bm.