Taking vitamins: beneficial or detrimental?

Taking all your vitamins? What if someone told you that they don't make a difference either way? We automatically assume that since vitamins are good for the body that more vitamins are better. Too much of anything is just that; too much. The same goes for vitamins. The body takes in and uses essential and non essential vitamins, uses them for whatever biological function they are best for, and has no use for the leftovers.

Just as the body can only take in and use up a certain amount of water before it runs right through you, the body only has use for a certain amount of each vitamin. The difference here is that some vitamins don't get flushed out of the body once the upper limit has been reached. These will remain in the system at high levels, and eventually, as they build up, reach toxic levels.

The real question becomes, how do you know when you've had enough and when you are lacking. Science shows that the recommendations provided in food guides cover each of the essential and non essential vitamins simply through food choice. This means that with a healthy, balanced diet you can get plenty of vitamins and minerals naturally.

There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. With that, many doctors recommend certain supplements for particular deficiencies, and as we age, multivitamins are also generally recommended. This is because as we age, the absorption rate decreases by the digestive system, so taking an oral supplement can help make up for any deficits. There is also the argument that as a physically active person one would need more vitamins to make up for strenuous workouts and aiding in recovery.

So does a physically active person require higher intakes of vitamins, and specifically, supplements? The answer is debatable. On the one hand, for example, studies have shown vitamin C to assist in ridding the body of free radicals, however it has also been proven in other studies to inhibit full physiological adaptation to exercise. All vitamins are important to have in the body, assisting in growth, increasing oxygen flow, and reparation of tissues. Maintaining a healthy balance is equally important.

So can you get all you need without supplements? Absolutely. Find out which vitamins are present in which of the foods you eat and you'll know just what you're getting enough of and what you're lacking. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is a key to getting vitamins naturally. However, if you aren't into leafy green, uncooked veggies, then perhaps you are a candidate for supplements. Getting 'enough' vitamin in natural foods can be challenging to those who don't make many of their own meals, eat out frequently, and just don't eat enough of the right stuff.

Where do you stand? Vitamin supplements can be tremendously helpful to some, and detrimental to others, finding out where you stand can make all the difference to your training, and eating habits!

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