Where is the best place to buy supplements? Dietary supplements are widely available online, at chain and independent shops and even at certain medical facilities that specialize in wellness and both oral and injected vitamin supplementation. However, the location where you buy your vitamins supplements isn’t the main concern. It’s much more about the quality and bioavailability of their products. This is what really matters, because if the vitamin, mineral or other substance isn’t in a readily bioavailable form, it may not be very helpful. Bioavailability refers to how absorbable a nutrient is.
Many people may not know that vitamins and minerals come in more than one form. Some of these are naturally occurring; others are synthetic versions. In general, there is a longstanding belief in the wellness community that synthetic vitamins do not provide the same benefits as natural ones do. Vitamin deficiencies can seriously compromise your health. Some can even kill.
For many centuries, sailors on long ocean voyages would develop a horrible disease where their teeth fell out, their gums bled and their bodies seemed to fall apart before they finally died. No one knew what caused it, but one day in about the mid-1800s a British doctor advised sailors to carry barrels of lime juice on extended trips. The sailors drank the vitamin C rich juice and none contracted the dreaded disease. This is why British sailors became known as limeys.
Today, we know this disease as scurvy, and it’s caused by a severe deficiency in vitamin C. Vitamin B-12 is involved in nerve function and the formation of red blood cells and DNA. A lack of sufficient dietary B-12 can cause very serious symptoms. Since B-12 occurs only in animal foods, such as meat, milk, eggs and cheese, vegans are at serious risk for B-12 deficiency. Many of them will deny this and say that B-12 is found in the soil, and so they get the vitamin from that with their vegetarian diet, but this is not true. B-12 does indeed form around the roots of some plants, but the soil must also contain the element cobalt, and the amount is very small.
No matter what vegan websites might say, it’s not possible to get enough B-12 from a vegan diet alone. Vegans need supplements of the vitamin to remain healthy. By the way, huge vegetarian animals like hippos and elephants get their vitamin B-12 manufactured by friendly bacteria in their intestines. Humans do not and must get it from the diet.
Vitamin D is an important vitamin that works with calcium to keep bones and teeth strong. It’s found in two main forms: Vitamin D-2 from plant sources and D-3 from animals, such as from the lanolin found in sheep’s wool. D-2 is not nearly as bioavailable as D-3 is, so it’s not hard to understand why D-3 is the form you should use in supplements. If you live in a sunny region and get at least 15 minutes of direct sunlight on exposed skin each day, you likely get enough from the sun alone. Oils on the skin convert sunlight into a form of vitamin D. That’s why it’s called the sunshine vitamin.
Can you Have a Vitamin Deficiency and not Know It?
Yes. A vitamin deficiency doesn’t have to be severe to cause health problems. Many people have subclinical vitamin deficiencies, especially if their diet is heavy in sugar and processed foods. For example, a minor B-12 deficiency can cause fatigue. Insufficient intake of vitamin D-3 may cause depression, suppression of the immune system and bone pain.
Vitamin C deficiency is quite rare because it’s so readily available from fruits and vegetables, and you don’t need a whole lot, just 60 milligrams daily for an adult. This is roughly the amount in a medium size orange or a half cup of chopped green bell pepper. However, a lack of vitamin E is more likely because it’s harder to get from foods. Symptoms could include vision problems, muscle weakness and a compromised immune system.
When you purchase supplements, check the labels. If it’s a vitamin or mineral, look to see what form it’s in. You can also check for a certificate of analysis, which will guarantee the purity and potency of the product. If you’d like to know more about vitamin and mineral supplementation, Vital Force can explain how their wellness program can help you experience optimal health. A comprehensive consultation with one of our physicians will provide a supplementation program tailored just for you. Just call us at 205-352-9141. We warmly welcome all new patients.