What Kind of Vitamins do I Need to Take?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

While the ideal way of obtaining vitamins is through eating a healthy diet, not all vitamins are equally absorbed by all people. As well, some conditions suggest that certain vitamin supplements should definitely be added to diets. For example, people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) have difficulty absorbing vitamins from food, and may benefit from a good, and easily digestible multi-vitamin supplement.

Multivitamin supplements.
Multivitamin supplements.

What vitamins one takes needs to be tailored to the individual. A pregnant woman, for example, should start taking a pregnancy multi-vitamin that contains folic acid prior to conception. Taking folic acid significantly reduces the risk of certain birth defects when a daily amount is taken before the woman conceives.

Pregnant women should take folic acid to reduce risk of birth defects.
Pregnant women should take folic acid to reduce risk of birth defects.

Someone who is on a calorie-restricted diet may also need a good multi-vitamin because the person may not be getting enough vitamin amounts from their foods. Vegetarians particularly need vitamin B12, which is often lacking from the vegetarian diet. People who cannot consume milk products lose out on vitamin D, calcium, magnesium and potassium.

A daily fish oil supplement can prevent heart disease.
A daily fish oil supplement can prevent heart disease.

Most doctors also recommend that all women take a daily calcium supplement. This is especially true for women entering their 30s and older, since calcium can help forestall osteoporosis. Many also benefit from the vitamin A in fish oil and flaxseed oil, which has mood regulating benefits and may be helpful in preventing heart disease. Vitamin A levels should be carefully regulated, since too much vitamin A has been linked to birth defects. Those with heart rhythm irregularities should also not take fish oil, as it may actually increase the chance of having a dangerous arrhythmia.

Flaxseed oil contains vitamin A.
Flaxseed oil contains vitamin A.

People who are elderly, or young children who have very picky food habits may also benefit from taking vitamins that have a basic selection of various vitamins. Note that calcium and iron vitamins or minerals should never be taken together, since iron interferes with calcium absorption. People with immunodeficiencies should also take a multivitamin supplement.

Taking too many vitamins can be as dangerous as not taking enough.
Taking too many vitamins can be as dangerous as not taking enough.

Vitamins should not be a substitution for a healthy diet however, because it has been shown that vitamins in food tend to be much more easily absorbed. Further, food often contains beneficial ingredients that one can’t get from vitamins. Milk for example, contains calcium and vitamin D, as well as magnesium and potassium. Simply taking a vitamin D supplement will not completely compensate from what one misses by not consuming dairy.

Taking too many vitamins has also shown to be largely ineffective. Most extra vitamins, like extra vitamin C are simply excreted through urine and don’t provide much benefit. In fact, as important as it may be to take some vitamins, it is equally important not to take too many. The best bet is to get recommendations from a physician so that any suggested vitamins mesh well with one’s dietary needs, any medications one may take, and any medical conditions one has.

Vitamins are best absorbed from food.
Vitamins are best absorbed from food.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Keep in mind that there are many great sources of nutrition: vegetables, fruits, berries, oils, seaweed, ocean minerals, Himalayan minerals, exotic plants, and so on. And research can tell us the benefits of each vitamin, mineral and omega that provides us with targeted solutions for each nutrient.

However, most of us are missing the forest for the trees. The vast majority of people are not deficient in one particular nutrient (vitamin, mineral or other). Sure there are cases, and unless you've been tested (the technology is here if you want to spend the time and money), then you probably are not deficient in one particular nutrient that is the cause or will be the cause of a health problem.

No, most of us are deficient in a vast array of nutrients. We just don't eat enough plant-based foods. We overcook our foods. And even the foods that are suppose to be good fall short of the nutritional content that they once had many decades ago due to soil depletion, picking too early, and exposure to the elements because of transporting distances. So the question you should be asking is: how can I get a broad array of nutrition from the right sources in order to fully cover my nutrient needs for good health, wellness, and prevention?

I did some exploring on the different daily nutritional supplements and the true purpose behind them. I spent a year thoroughly researching all those available on the market in order to make an informed decision and could share with others. In addition, I took a step back to look at why we take a nutritional supplement and from that answer drew to a conclusion on what specific criteria are needed to fully meet our daily nutritional needs as closely as possible, or at least as much as nutritionally possible without actually consuming a variety of home grown, organic foods (not always possible, I know!).

My findings are summarized here and I am happy to share them with you.

The first discovery made was actually a conclusion - that the best supplements on the market actually have three criteria that makes them each an optimal daily nutritional supplement compared to others that don't meet these criteria. (These same criteria can be applied to those nutritional products that in a small percentage of cases are needed for specific, targeted uses or conditions, but here we are talking about daily nutrition for overall health and wellness).

Those criteria are: 1) the product is made using the whole food; 2) it is comprised of mostly (if not all) organic foods; and 3) it includes superfoods - those foods we know to contain relatively very high levels of nutritional content.

The three companies I found that make a product (a daily nutritional supplement) that fits these three criteria are: Barlean's Organic Greens, Green SuperFoods by Amazing Grass and AKEA Essentials.

There may be others that have the three criteria mentioned above, but the main focus was to find a complete nutritional supplement that is meant to cover the vast array of nutrients most of us miss in our typical day, not a supplement specific to a particular problem (i.e. vitamin D for depression-like symptoms).

I have personally tried all three, but opted for using the AKEA Essentials (now just called AKEA and owned by Asantae). The AKEA has the added benefit of having pre- and pro-biotic enzymes and fermented foods, all of which aid in the digestion and health of the intestinal tract. The taste of the AKEA is something I enjoyed over the others, although my philosophy is I would consume any product regardless of taste if I knew it contained a very high level of very high quality nutrients. However, the AKEA does taste good.

The other point to make here is that you won't find the best daily nutritional supplements in a capsule, pill, or tablet form, at least not if you expect to get adequate amounts of nutrients. Of course, you could take 10 or more per day, but with that approach you are better off with a powder. Also, liquids will always (I have not found one without one of the common preservatives - usually a benzoate of some sort - among the roughly 30-plus evaluated) have some sort of preservative because water will invite mold and the preservative prevents the mold. And the preservative is not a beneficial nutrient, so this delivery method was voted down.

Those three criteria can be debated on whether or not they are necessary, just as many people don't think "organic" foods are necessary, but if your focus is to get nutrition into your body to support your good health and prevention of sickness and disease, then doesn't it makes sense to seek a product with only the highest standards? Besides, "organic" farming was the standard for thousands of years, and only recently has the new standard of farming become "conventional," which uses chemicals and products that are not healthy or beneficial to the soil.

Finding the best for myself and others was the goal in my search. And since we are going outside the normal method of getting nutrition (eating food), it only makes sense that we choose the absolute best nutritional sources available.

If there weren’t one, I believe I would have to create one. Hope you find this information helpful.


Can bright yellow urine mean you're getting your vitamins too quickly? In other words, take half in the morning and half, say 12 hours later?


Vitamin C is the best for fitness of the body and health so I like vitamin C. It is essential for building the body muscles and keeping the bones strong. Anyhow, I think Vitamin C is the best element for skin care and protection of tissues so most of the people like this for curing skin care issues.


I'm a 36 year old female and I am taking a multivitamin daily. Do I need to be taking extra calcium with it? I just looked at the multivitamin bottle and it says it only has 500mg of calcium in it. Is that enough? I don't drink milk but I do like cheese. Any advice for me?


My name is Samantha and I am 28 years old. I don't really eat. I maybe eat one time a day, if that. Is there a vitamin out there that I can take to get the stuff I need to stay healthy?

I know there is noting better than eating a good meal three times a day. Is there anyone out there who knows a little about what kind of meds to take? I really need help on this. Thank you all for your help. I want to feel better. I am always tired and have no need to do things. I don't like feeling like this. I have 3 kids who need me. Please help.


"People who cannot consume milk products lose out on vitamin D, calcium, magnesium and potassium." What kind milk are you talking about? Cow milk? Almond milk? If you are talking about cow milk then I disagree with this statement. I was eating dairy and destroyed my bones. Plant based calcium is best, not from milk! Cow milk is designed for cows, not humans!


Vitamins are chemicals that are necessary for a good heath. The body requires vitamins in order to perform its everyday functions.They can get with the pure and healthy food but sometime we need them severely. Nice blog about vitamins and organic multi vitamins .


I am diagnosed with having DCIS and I am taking too many vitamins and I always take calcium with Vit. D (1000IU) and iron at the same time. Now thanks to the info I've read from your site I now learned that they couldn't be taken at the same time. Emma


I've been taking liquid Isotonic vitamins and they're great. comes in a powder and you add water and drink it. It's amazing!


I am 30 years old now and i have four kids. i eat all kinds of food but still not sure if i should take the multivitamin or no. thanks for your time. -- sehare


I am going to be starting a very low calorie diet on monday, but i need to know what vitamins are best to take to avoid feeling fatigued and weak. thanks


Your body is unique. The bio-nutrients it needs for optimal functional health may be different from those that someone else needs. That's why ordinary multivitamins don't cut it.

Multivitamins from the drugstore, and expensive supplements from nutrition and health food stores alike, can leave you with too much of some nutrients, too little of others, or none at all of other particular nutrients your body needs.

The simple truth is that "one-size-fits-all" multivitamin cannot provide you with optimal nutrition because they are created for a hypothetical "average" person. No such person exists.

On top of that, many ingredients in drug store brand multivitamins are in hard-to-absorb forms, or their ingredients are isolated from their synergistic nutrient partners—facts which can greatly reduce their effectiveness.


In regards to "rjohnson" - that is not correct. Bright urine indicates only that you've consumed a larger amount of certain B vitamins (either via food or supplements). It isn't generally harmful. However, a darker urine color indicates not getting enough fluids, a.k.a. being dehydrated.


Thank you sooo much for this site it helped me a lot with my vegetarian diet, I am very healthy and I'm getting the vitamins I neeed thanks again xx-x-x-x-x Gooo veggies!!!


I agree, that the best way to get all the necessary vitamins is through food if at all possible.

So Vitamin A rich foods are: carrots, sweet potatoes, mango, spinach, apricots

Vitamin B complex: whole grains, leafy greens, dairy products

Vitamin C: strawberries, oranges, tomatoes, cabbage

Vitamin D: milk, fish, egg yolk

Vitamin E: whole grains, egg yolk, seeds and nuts

Vitamin K: leafy green vegetable, milk, yogurt

By eating a varied diet one should be able to get all the necessary vitamins.


If you are taking too many vitamins you'll know because your urine will be a brighter yellow. Although more vibrant urine can also be an indication of not getting enough fluids.

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