A pharmacy wall stocked with vitamins can be overwhelming to scan. So if you could incorporate only one into your routine, which should it be?
We put this question to Dr Arielle Levitan and Dr Romy Block from the US, who wrote The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear The Confusion About Vitamins And Your Health.
â€œVitamin D is probably the one, if we had to come up with one single vitamin that most people need to be taking to some extent,â€ Dr Levitan said.
It has an impressive resume, they promise.
â€œItâ€™s been proven to play a role in so many important things,â€ Dr Levitan says, â€œparticularly in moods, in bone healthâ€¦ heart disease, prevention of dementia.â€
Vitamin D can also ease muscle aches and thinning hair.
Usually, the doctors explained, your body should synthesise vitamin D in your kidney and liver after sunlight exposure. But we rarely receive enough, especially in winter. And itâ€™s difficult to get a proper amount of vitamin D through foods.
Drs Levitan and Block recommend looking for bottles that say USP or GMP, which denote trusted manufacturing standards.
But make sure youâ€™re getting the right amount. They suggest checking with a doctor. Too much can cause kidney stones, they note, and has been associated with higher mortality.
â€œA lot of our patients think that more is better, and if they donâ€™t really need it, â€˜Iâ€™ll just pee it out,â€™â€ Dr Levitan said. Not true.
They say most people need a supplement with 800 to 2,000 IUs daily, but some may need more based on certain conditions.
And this is not limited to countries with different seasons. Even for those who live in sunny climates may not be getting enough sun. Researchers say take vitamin D constantly as itâ€™s metabolised slowly, just lower your dosage.
â€œPeople are taking the vitamins, (then) looking in the mirror the next day (for results),â€ Dr Levitan says. â€œWe say six months to see the proper effect. Itâ€™s slow.â€ â€“ Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service
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