Approximately one-third of adult Americans take daily supplements for a variety of reasons. Some want to strengthen their immune system, others are looking for more energy, and some simply want to promote overall health and prevent chronic disease in the most efficient way possible.
Of course, we get most of our nutrients from a healthy diet. But how many of really eat healthy every day? Multivitamins are the easiest way to supplement the diet, but the benefits go far beyond that. Here are twelve fascinating facts about supplements you probably don’t already know!
1. Our Bodies Are Designed to Absorb Vitamins from Natural Sources
Many people purchase synthetic, high-dose multivitamins because they’re cheap and readily available. And the mega-dose just makes them sound better. What most people don’t realize is that synthetic vitamins are difficult for the body to absorb and use… which means they’re literally flushing their money down the toilet.
According to supplement experts at SmartyPants Organic Vitamins, our bodies were designed to absorb vitamins from sources like food and all-natural vitamin supplements. It’s worth spending a few extra dollars on organic multivitamins because they’re much more efficient than synthetics!
2. Female scientists played a vital role in the discovery of essential vitamins
When you’re taking your daily multivitamin, take a moment to thank female scientists for their role in the discovery of many vital nutrients. Katherine Bishop assisted in the discovery of vitamin E back in 1922 and Marguerite Davis and her research partner discovered vitamin A in 1913. Lucy Wills was the sole scientist behind the discovery of folic acid. Way to go ladies!
3. Plants were used as supplements before written history
Archaeological evidence shows that humans have been using plants as supplements and medicine for at least 60,000 years. Clay tablets have been found on the banks of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers that are believed to be the first written records of herbal remedies. The 6,000-year-old tablets detail the use of mustard, licorice, thyme, and other plants for various health issues.
4. Calcium isn’t the only supplement for strong bones
Did you know that vitamin K2 is crucial for improving bone density in menopausal women? Turns out it’s not all about calcium after all. Vitamin K2 is crucial for lowering the risk of bone fractures and injuries.
5. Vitamin D can reduce your risk of sunburn
You probably already know that vitamin D is absorbed from sunlight, but did you know that it can actually lower your risk of getting a sunburn? In fact, studies show that taking a daily vitamin that contains vitamin D can even help reduce the inflammation, pain, and swelling of a sunburn after the fact.
6. But that’s not all!
Those same anti-inflammatory properties make vitamin D a vital nutrient for managing the pain of fibromyalgia, arthritis, and other joint issues. Vitamin D is also vital for the endocrine system, which means it could improve fertility in men and women who are struggling to conceive.
Studies also show that vitamin D has a positive effect on the microbiome of the gut. It can improve digestion and reduce the symptoms of metabolic syndrome… an illness that raises the risk of many chronic diseases, including stroke and type 2 diabetes.
7. Protein isn’t just for the gym crowd
Whey protein powder is super popular among the gym crowd for repairing and building muscle after a workout. But it turns out that it can also be beneficial for those in their senior years by helping to maintain vital muscle mass and overall strength in the muscles.
8. There are two types of vitamins and they’re surprisingly different
Most of us tend to group all vitamins together, but there are actually two different types: water-soluble and fat-soluble. We need to get optimal amounts of water-soluble vitamins like B and C every single day because they can’t be stored in the body. Excess amounts of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K can be stored in the body for later use.
9. Magnesium is more important than you thought
If you’re going to take supplements, it’s important to know how different nutrients interact with each other. For example, if you’re taking a supplement with vitamin D but no magnesium, you could still be deficient in vitamin D. That’s because vitamin D can’t be absorbed efficiently if your magnesium levels are low.
10. Folic acid does more than prevent birth defects
If you’re a woman of child-bearing age, you’ve probably already heard all about the importance of taking folic acid. But it turns out that everyone can benefit from this important nutrient. Studies show that taking folic acid over the long term can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
11. B vitamins can reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia
B vitamins are super important for energy, metabolism, brain health, and much more. It turns out B-complex may also work as a natural antipsychotic to reduce the symptoms of mental illness, including schizophrenia.
12. Supplements aren’t for everyone
Turns out that certain supplements can interfere with medications, sometimes increasing or decreasing their effectiveness. Not only that, but some supplements can be harmful to people with certain health issues.
For example, people with diabetes should never take a supplement that contains niacin because it can elevate blood sugar. Excess calcium can worsen coronary artery disease, and too much iron and vitamin C can be dangerous for people with hemochromatosis.
Always tell your doctor about any supplements you’re taking, especially if you’re on medication or have a chronic illness.
One last fact to wrap things up
Researchers are learning more and more about how nutrients affect our health and how our bodies absorb them. In the future, you can expect to see multivitamins become even more sophisticated to improve their effectiveness. In particular look for vitamins personalized to your genetic code and advanced supplements involving gut microbes for improved absorption.