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What Are Vitamins? 7 Reasons You Should Take Them

By    |   Monday, 20 Oct 2014 06:35 PM

Vitamin supplements make a lot of promises, from weight loss to better sleep. While some experts say you don’t need vitamins as long as you eat healthfully, others say supplements are essential to rounding out all our nutritional needs. For anyone who’s ever asked, “what are vitamins anyway?” here are seven reasons you should consider taking them.

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1. Essential nutrients. By the time we lift a fork to our mouths, the food on that utensil has usually been highly processed, and much of the nutritional content has been cooked out during preparation. For example, converting brown rice into white rice reduces fiber by about 75 percent. The process also reduces iron, niacin, thiamin, folacin, potassium, and vitamins E and B6, according to the Poliquin Group.

2. Insomnia and anxiety. A lack of sleep has been implicated in everything from mood disorders to obesity. The American Cancer Society surveyed more than 1 million Americans and found that those who slept less than six hours per night had higher mortality rates than those who slept more. Supplements that can help improve sleep include magnesium sulfate, vitamin E supplements, melatonin, valerian and kava, according to WebMD.

3. Poor digestion. The Poliquin Group estimates that half the U.S. population has inadequate stomach acid, which means food isn’t absorbed properly. Vitamin supplements can help compensate for nutrients lost during digestion.

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4. Obesity. It’s estimated that 50 percent of the population in the U.S. is overweight or obese. At current rates that percentage will increase to 75 percent by 2015. Experts say using supplements for detoxification is one way to combat the growing obesity problem.

5. Bone strength. Calcium and vitamin D are recommended for postmenopausal women as a way to increase bone density and reduce the risk of fractures.

6. Athleticism. Amino acids can help improve energy levels and are often used by trainers to improve energy during workouts.

7. Overall well-being.
The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study in 2002 looking at vitamin deficiencies and several chronic diseases. The study determined that a wide range of people, including the elderly, vegans, alcoholics, and those with absorption problems, were susceptible to inadequate vitamin intake. The study concluded that it “appears prudent for all adults to take vitamin supplements.”

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While some experts say you don’t need vitamins as long as you eat healthfully, others say supplements are essential to rounding out all our nutritional needs. For anyone who’s ever asked, “what are vitamins anyway?” here are seven reasons you should consider taking them.
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