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The Benefits of Vitamin Supplementation Outweigh the Cons Smith 1

The Benefits of Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation Outweigh the Cons

Grace Smith

July 5, 2017
The Benefits of Vitamin Supplementation Outweigh the Cons Smith 2

Vitamins and minerals are essential aspects of a healthy diet because of the many

functions that they perform inside of our bodies. Therefore, it is important to ensure that

proper amounts of each of the thirteen vitamins are being consumed on a daily basis, in

addition to the many essential minerals as well. In many cases, it is possible to include each

of these vitamins in a nutritious diet. However, for some individuals it can be more

challenging to receive enough of each of the vitamins through a healthy diet alone. Vitamin

and mineral supplementation may benefit an individual whose diet provides an inadequate

source of nutrients due to lifestyle choices, individuals who experience natural deficiencies

and disorders, and during the crucial times throughout an individuals development and

lifespan when an exceptional amount of a certain vitamin is required for growth and

longevity including the prevention of chronic diseases.

Certain lifestyle choices such as vegetarianism may result in vitamin deficiencies for

some individuals. For example, many individuals who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet

may lack stores of certain vitamins in their bodies such as vitamin B-12. This deficiency is

the result of minimal or nonexistent consumption of animal products, including meats and

dairy products. Vitamin B-12 plays an important role in our bodies, as it maintains the

sheaths that surround and protect our nerve fibers, as well as, helping to produce red blood

cells. If a person does not receive enough of vitamin B-12 the symptoms can occur in many

different forms such as hematological, neurological and even psychiatric. The World

Health Organization recommends that individuals receive at least 1.9g of B-12 each day.

In order to achieve this amount, it is suggested that those who follow a vegetarian, and

especially a vegan diet, should routinely take vitamin B-12 supplements to prevent the

consequences of which accompany a deficiency (Pawlak, 2015).


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Of all the minerals found in our bodies, calcium is the most abundant and therefore

serves many roles. Calcium makes up a large percentage of our bones, which not only

function to support our bodies, but also serve as a storage area for unused calcium.

Calcium must also be present for blood to clot, muscle contraction and the regulation of

blood pressure and heartbeat. Calcium is found in three classes of food including dairy

products, green vegetables and shellfish (Boyle, 2016). Additionally, many foods are even

fortified with calcium to increase the probability of consumption. For the majority of

individuals, it is easy to incorporate an adequate amount of calcium into a healthy diet.

However, it can be a challenge for those with a lactose intolerance to incorporate the

recommended amount of 700-1200 mg per day. It is important to achieve the daily

recommendations to avoid certain consequences such as loss of bone density, which can

eventually lead to osteoporosis. For those individuals who are not able to achieve the

recommended amounts of calcium based on dietary restrictions, a physician may prescribe

a calcium or vitamin D supplement to assist with the absorption of calcium (Heaney, 2013).

Another common deficiency is an iron deficiency, otherwise known as anemia.

Anemia is the most commonly known deficiency, and can typically be aided with the use of

dietary supplements. Anemia occurs when the iron supply in the body is too low, and the

number and size of red blood cells in the body is reduced. Iron is a component of

hemoglobin, which is the bloods oxygen storage, which also makes it a very important part

of respiration. Anemia results in symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, apathy and even

headaches. An individual with anemia may also experience an increased sensitivity to the

cold and appear to be pale skinned. This deficiency is most common among women who

are premenopausal. In a study that tested the effects of iron supplementation on


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individuals who were anemic, the results showed that an iron supplementation actually

increased exercise performance and symptomatic fatigue (Low, 2016). Those with anemia

are not the only individuals who can benefit from a dietary iron supplement however.

Women who are premenopausal, and pregnant may also benefit from an iron supplement

in order to meet the 18 milligrams of iron per day that is recommended for young women

pre-menopause, and the 30 milligrams per day of iron that is recommended for women

who are pregnant. Increasing the consumption of iron rich foods is also recommended to

increase the intake of iron (Boyle, 2016).

In addition to our physical health, vitamins can also play an important role in our

cognitive functioning. In recent years, supplementation of vitamins B-6, B-12 and folate

have proven to significantly impact the memories of patients suffering from the symptoms

of Alzheimers disease and Dementia. The amino acid, homocysteine is toxic to brain tissue

and can impair cognitive activity when levels of this compound are elevated. Increased

intake of vitamins B-6, B-12 and folic acid have the ability to decrease levels of

homocysteine and potentially impact memory in a positive way. Many doctors recommend

that patients who are at risk for, or have already been diagnosed with Alzheimers disease

or Dementia increase the intake of these vitamins in addition to zinc and trimethylglycin to

normalize levels of homocysteine. Often times, it is impossible for these patients to receive

a high enough concentration of these vitamins through diet alone, and therefore a

supplement is essential (Zhang, 2017).

In addition to the harmful affects that homocysteine can have on the brain, it can

also serve as a leading risk factor in contributing to fatal heart disease. Heart disease is

among the top causes of death in the United States, so it is important that every possible
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precaution is taken to reduce the risk of developing this disease. As with Alzheimers

disease and Dementia, elevated levels of homocysteine can be credited to low intakes of

vitamins B-6, B-12 and folate. The high levels of this compound enhance the formation of

blood clots and cause damage to the arterial walls making it difficult for blood to flow

regularly (Boyle, 2016). Vitamins B-6, B-12 and folate have the ability to lower

homocysteine levels by transforming the compound into methionine. There are many foods

that are fortified with folic acid, so our bodies typically have a large store of folate. The

addition of a supplement that contains vitamins B-6 and B-12 can play a large role in the

prevention of heart disease when consumed with a healthy diet. The evidence has not yet

proven however, that these vitamins are efficient in helping to cure, or reduce the

symptoms of those already suffering from coronary heart disease (Harvard, 2017).

Overall, there are many benefits related to the use of supplementation in the form of

vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals are both essential nutrients, and when they

are not consumed in adequate amounts the consequences can be harmful to the body.

Whether the need for a supplement is rooted in a deficiency that is caused by a disorder, or

a lifestyle choice, the benefits that the supplement will provide outweigh the possibilities

that may occur otherwise.


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References

Boyle, M. A. (2016). Personal nutrition. Boston, MA, USA: Cengage Learning, 193,

Harvard T.H. Chan. School of Public Health. Three of the B Vitamins: Folate, Vitamin B6, and

Vitamin B12. (2017, February 27). Retrieved July 05, 2017, from

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-b/

Heaney, R. P. (2013). Dairy Intake, Dietary Adequacy, and Lactose Intolerance. Advances in

Nutrition, 4(2), 151156.

http://doi.org.setonhill.idm.oclc.org/10.3945/an.112.003368

Low, M. Y. (2016). Daily iron supplementation for improving anaemia, iron status and

health in menstruating women. Cochrane Database Of Systematic Reviews, (4),

doi:10.1002/14651858.CD009747.pub2

Pawlak, R. (2015). Vitamin B12 in Vegetarian Diets. Middle East Journal of Rehabilitation

and Health, 2(4). doi:10.17795/mejrh-32907

Zhang, D., Ye, J., Mu, J., & Cui, X. (2017). Efficacy of Vitamin B Supplementation on Cognition

in Elderly Patients With Cognitive-Related Diseases. Journal Of Geriatric Psychiatry

And Neurology, 30(1), 50-59. doi:10.1177/0891988716673466