Dietary supplements have become a staple of modern-day health and wellness regimes, reflecting society's shift towards a more holistic and personalized approach to healthcare. According to recent research, Americans are taking dietary supplements at a higher rate than ever with 75 percent of American adults taking dietary supplements in 2018, as opposed to an already substantial 65 percent of American adults taking dietary supplements in 2009.
Along with the rise in the population's use of dietary supplements, consumer confidence in the benefits of dietary supplements, such as multivitamins and more specialized vitamin supplements, has continued to rise as well.
According to a 2018 survey commissioned by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), 87 percent of American adults have overall confidence in the safety, quality, and effectiveness of dietary supplements. This is an increase from the 84 percent of U.S. adults’ confidence in 2009 and the 73 percent of U.S. adult confidence in 2016, statistics that seem to reflect the improvements of a growing dietary supplement industry which is determined to innovate and provide increasingly effective products, such as liquid vitamins with higher absorption rates, for its growing base of consumers.
Nevertheless, there are still many for whom questions such as, “do vitamins work?” and “are vitamins good for you?” arise. This is completely reasonable. Given that so many of us take vitamins every single day, we want to make sure that what we are putting into our body on such a regular basis really does improve our health and wellness.
Unfortunately for those who wish that dietary supplements are a one-way ticket to a clean bill of health, the answer may seem like a negative one. We are still a far way off from producing dietary supplements that can function as an alternative to eating healthily and living a healthy lifestyle. That is, dietary supplements are still supplements and not complete alternatives to healthy living. As it stands, eating well-balanced meals is still the best way to maintain our health, and in an ideal world, we would all have the time, resources, and knowledge to eat balanced and holistic meals on a consistent everyday basis.
Of course, most American consumers understand the supplementary nature of dietary supplements and take them to augment other parts of our regular diets which often do not provide for all the essential vitamins and minerals necessary for us to live our most energetic and healthy lives. For these consumers, the answer is overwhelmingly positive as long as we ensure that we are using the correct supplements in a correct and informed manner.
Okay, so I mentioned taking supplements in a “correct and informed manner” because the answer is not as simple as “yes all vitamins work” or “no all vitamins do not work.”
When it comes to dietary supplements and our health, as with all facets of life, there must be room for nuance. We don’t say that all fats are unhealthy or vice versa because, as research shows, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are healthy in moderation while trans fats are not. Likewise, not all dietary supplements are created equal, and whether it is healthy to take certain dietary supplements will often depend upon the reasons for and the circumstances surrounding the individuals taking them. It is exactly this nuance that is blatantly overlooked by the occasional sensational blogs and reports which claim that all vitamins do not work (and likewise by the reports that claim that all vitamins do).
In this article, we will not fall into the same trap. Instead, we provide the reader with nuanced perspectives backed by science on the effects and benefits of a variety of dietary supplements. As you will see, the answer to the question, “do vitamins work?” will not only depend upon the actual types of dietary supplements, such as vitamin B, vitamin D, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamins A, and multivitamins, but also on the actual forms that these dietary supplements take, such as pill form vitamins, gummies, chewable vitamins, and liquid vitamins, where liquid vitamins clearly outperform all of the former options.
Supplementing our vitamin D intake has become extremely popular and for good reason. Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin since it is produced by our body as a response to sun exposure. Easy enough right? Not exactly.
Vitamin D deficiency is a widespread issue, often due to the difficulty of getting enough Vitamin D in the winter and during busy schedules when it is hard to get enough outside time. In fact, in a recent study featured in the New England Journal of Medicine, conducted by Michael Holick, the director of the General research Center at Boston University School of Medicine, revealed that an estimated one billion people in the world are vitamin D deficient, many of which are in industrialized countries like the United States.
Why is this important? There are a significant amount of benefits associated with proper vitamin D intake and many health issues associated with vitamin D deficiencies.
The roles that vitamin D plays in the body are many and varied. Among other things, vitamin D plays important roles in maintaining the health of bones and teeth, supporting the health of the immune system, the brain, and the nervous system, regulating insulin levels and aiding in diabetes management, supporting lung function and cardiovascular health, and wielding a positive influence over genes involved in cancer development.
On the other hand, the risks associated with vitamin deficiency are also many and varied. For one, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a number of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Moreover, people with vitamin D deficiencies are more likely to die of Hodgkin's lymphoma, colon, pancreatic, prostate, ovarian, breast, and other cancers. And there is an association between low levels of vitamin D and increased risk for type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.
While you should not let these statistics scare you, they are important for us to recognize so that we ensure that we are getting enough vitamin D. Of course, the best way to get enough vitamin D is to ensure that you get enough sunlight, but for many of us taking vitamin D supplements can be a very helpful augmentation to this. In fact, several recent studies and reviews have shown that people who take vitamin D supplements daily lived longer on average than those who do not.
Vitamin B Complex
There are several vitamin Bs, all of which contribute to the health of our bodily functions in many different ways. For this reason, many people opt for taking B complex vitamins, such as our Liquid B-Complex supplement, so that they can reap the benefits of all the B vitamins without having to take a large number of pills.
The B-complex of vitamins includes eight B vitamins: thiamine (B-1), riboflavin (B-2), niacin (B-3), pantothenic acid (B-5), pyridoxine (B-6), biotin (B-7), folic acid (B-9), and cobalamin (B-12). Like vitamin D, the B complex has a variety of clinically proven benefits to our health which can be beneficially supplemented by taking either individual B vitamin or B complex dietary supplements.
Among the health benefits of the B-complex are the promotion of healthy cell growth, growth of red blood cells, improved energy levels, improved eyesight, healthy brain functions, better digestion, good digestion, the maintenance of proper nerve function, improved cardiovascular health, and better muscle growth.
In addition to the general effects of B vitamins, there are also specific effects that are beneficial to women specifically.
For women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, folic acid (B-9) can be especially important. Folic acid is the vitamin which our bodies use to make new cells. The National Institutes of Health recommends that women who are currently pregnant or hope to get pregnant take folic acid supplements daily since their bodies require more of this vitamin when they are carrying a growing fetus.
Additionally, a number of studies have shown a link between folic acid supplementation and a decreased risk of neural-tube defects, as well as a number of birth defects of a baby’s brain, spine, and spinal cord. Of course, rather than taking folic acid by itself many women opt for taking a prenatal supplement, which also contains a number of beneficial Omega 3 fatty acids (the health benefits of which we talk about in the next section).
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Much research has been conducted on Omega-3 fatty acids in recent years and the research showing the benefits of both eating foods that are high in these fats, such as fish, as well as supplementing our diets with Omega-3 dietary supplements (especially if you do not have much seafood in your diet) has been nothing less than overwhelming.
There are three types of Omega-3s (ALA, EPA, and DHA) but given the varying effects of each, many people opt for taking Omega-3 complex vitamins which give them all three in a single dose. Given that there are so many benefits from these fatty acids, it will be best if we limit our discussion to what seems to be the most substantial of these benefits.
1.Omega-3s Can Help Fight Common Mental Disorders
Two of the most common mental disorders in the world are anxiety and depression, and as many people who deal with anxiety and depression know, any supplement that can help with the symptoms of these disorders is most welcome.
According to a number of studies, people who consume omega-3s regularly are less likely to be depressed, and further studies show that people facing anxiety or depression who supplement with omega-3s as a daily vitamin find that their symptoms improve after supplementation.
2. Omega-3s can Promote Brain Health for Children When Taken During Pregnancy
As we said above, many pregnant women choose to take prenatal supplements which often not only contain folic acid but also often contain omega-3 fatty acids. This is because studies show that getting enough omega-3 acids during pregnancy is associated with a number of benefits to your child, such as higher intelligence, better communication and social skills, fewer behavioral problems, and a decreased risk of ADHD, autism, and cerebral palsy.
3. Omega-3s Can Improve Risk of Heart Disease
Heart issues such as heart attacks and strokes are the worlds leading causes of death. There are many causes of these heart issues for which we know that there is no cure. Nevertheless, Omega-3s have been shown to help improve many of the most prevalent risk factors associated with heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.
According to numerous studies, Omega-3s have been shown to help reduce blood pressure levels in people with high blood pressure, raise “good” HDL cholesterol levels, prevent the formation of harmful blood clots, prevent plaque from restricting your arteries, and reduce the production of harmful substances released during various bodily inflammatory responses.
What Do Multivitamins Do?
While we have been mostly focusing on the effects of specialized dietary supplements with either a single vitamin or a complex of the same type of vitamins, it is important that we address what multivitamins do since they are some of the most popular types of dietary supplements that people take. Unlike prenatal supplements that are taken for an express purpose, people who take multivitamins are generally aiming towards a more generalized “healthiness” that can be achieved with a single supplement.
So do multivitamins work? They do, especially if you take the right ones and we recognize that by “work” we don’t mean “provide us with a clean bill of health or superhuman abilities” but rather “help augment our diet with multivitamin use so that we are receiving the proper amount of essential vitamins and nutrients.”
Given that multivitamins are most often simply an amalgamation of some of the vitamins we have been talking about (as well as some others) with benefits that have been supported by many studies, it should be no surprise that you can receive some of the same health benefits discussed by taking these vitamins in a more efficient form.
But what do I mean by “especially if you take the right one?” Well, as I said at the beginning, choosing the most effective vitamins not only has to do with the types of vitamins you take (i.e. Vitamin D, Omega-3s, etc.) but also often has to do with the form that the vitamin takes. This applies to both multivitamins and specialized vitamins.
We can compare vitamins to vegetables. It is a well-known fact that a vegetable like broccoli is a healthy thing to eat. Yet the number of nutrients that we get from eating broccoli will differ depending on how the broccoli is prepared. Research shows that if you eat broccoli raw, it is more nutritious than eating broccoli cooked.
We have shown that a number of dietary supplements can, in fact, have great health benefits for you but like broccoli, there are more and less effective ways of preparing the dietary supplements for consumption.
Presently, liquid vitamin supplements seem to be the best way that you can get the most out of your dietary supplements. Research shows that only 10-20 percent of vitamins are actually absorbed into the body when you take a dietary supplement like a multivitamin in pill form. However, when you take liquid vitamins, up to 98 percent of vitamins are absorbed into the body with 90 percent of those being absorbed within the first 30 seconds.
A natural question that seems to follow from our answer to “do vitamins work?” is “which vitamins work best?” The clear answer seems to be liquid vitamins.
We have answered the question “do vitamins work?” and shown that the great increase in the consumption of dietary supplements in the United States, as well as the increase in consumer trust in these products, seems to be justified. Numerous studies show that there is a range of potential benefits when it comes to supplementing our diets with vitamin supplements like vitamin D, B-complex vitamins, omega-3 supplements, and multivitamins in general (as well as a number of other vitamin supplements, such as vitamin e and vitamin a, not explicitly mentioned in this article).
The important thing to remember is that we must treat these dietary supplements as what they are -- supplements -- and not the be all end all of our holistic approach towards health and wellness. Moreover, we must recognize that some supplements are better suited to some than others, and it can often be helpful to consider one’s circumstances or consult medical professionals when determining which supplements will provide the best benefits to our health. If you pay attention to what vitamins we are taking, what multivitamins do, and ensure that you are taking your supplements in the optimal form, then you are sure to be on the right track.