Our bodies require both macronutrients and micronutrients to grow and maintain good health. Macronutrients are nutrients our body needs in large amounts. Macronutrients include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Micronutrients are needed in smaller amounts, and consist of vitamins and minerals (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2021). Some vitamins and minerals that you may be familiar with include, but are not limited to, Vitamins A, D, E, K and C, as well as iron, zinc, and folate. The foods we include in our diet are made up of both macro and micronutrients. Following a well-balanced diet is important in order to obtain nutrients, but supplements can also help us get the nutrients our body needs.
Vitamin supplements can help us acquire the vitamins and nutrients that we can’t make on our own or obtain enough through food alone. Some reasons that a doctor or nutritionist may recommend a supplement could be a change in dietary need due to pregnancy or other medical condition, weight loss surgery, and for people who are at an increased risk of a nutrient deficiency (Vyas, 2021). For example, folate is an important mineral needed during pregnancy to prevent birth defects like a neural tube defect. Another example being older adults who may require additional calcium or vitamin D in their diet to protect their bones. It is important to talk with your doctor before taking any vitamins to ensure that it is a nutrient that your body needs. Excessive amounts of vitamins and minerals can be potentially dangerous.
An important consideration when choosing a vitamin is the form of vitamin such as via food source, gummy vitamin, or pill vitamin. Our body absorbs things differently depending on the source. Food is easiest for our body to digest and allows us to have optimal absorption of a nutrient or vitamin. Foods can also offer multiple nutrients simultaneously and occur naturally. That is why it is so important to eat a variety of different foods. Supplements are not as easily absorbed by the body (Vyas, 2021). There are also differences between gummy vitamins and those that come in pill form. Gummy vitamins contain higher amounts of sugar and other additives to make it easier to for children and adults to take (Vyas, 2021). It makes it easy to take too many gummy vitamins due to their sweet taste and similarity to candy (Vyas, 2021). Gummy vitamins also have less nutrients then pill vitamins (WFMC Health, 2021). Gummy vitamins make it more challenging to determine the exact amount of vitamins and minerals in each gummy (WFMC Health, 2021). Gummy vitamins can become weaker over time and do not last as long on the shelf (Vyas, 2021). Most pill vitamins are made to be time released which allows for greater absorption, and are more exact when quantifying nutrient amounts (WFMC Health, 2021).
To make sure you get the nutrients you need, search for foods that are good sources of a particular nutrient. If you can’t consume enough of a nutrient through food talk with your doctor about a pill vitamin. Another suitable alternative are chewable vitamins that can be easier to swallow and closer to traditional pill vitamins (WFMC Health, 2021).
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021). Micronutrient facts. U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/micronutrient-malnutrition/micronutrients/index.html
Vyas, N. (2021). Do gummy vitamins work as well as traditional vitamins? Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/do-gummy-vitamins-work-as-well-as-traditional-vitamins/
WFMC Health (2021). Gummy vitamins vs. regular vitamins: Which is better? WFMCHealth.org. https://wfmchealth.org/family-health-care/gummy-vitamins-vs-regular-vitamins-which-is-better/
Author- Mercedes Martin
Editor- Kaitlyn Longstaff
Public Health Scientist- LaCher E-W, MPH