IBD Awareness

Vitamins: Good or Bad?

I have heard so many things about vitamins and how good they are for your body, but how much is too much and how do you figure out which vitamins work for you? In previous posts, I have mentioned that I take a Vitamin D supplement during the winter and have tried a probiotic supplement. I even take an iron supplement every night because I consistently have low iron due to both my disease and being a woman. A daily women’s multivitamin is also an essential for me because it has folic acid which was recommended by my doctor.

Photo by Harvard Health Publishing

I have to admit that I do have an underlying bias that some vitamins are just a plain waste of money and do not actually work. I have always hated taking pills, first of all because it hurt to swallow them but especially because I felt it was not necessary. I typically advocate for other methods of treatment because I hate the idea of putting foreign objects in my body and not knowing what the outcome will be. It was not until I was diagnosed with UC that I was forced to reevaluate this belief of mine, mostly because I did not have much of a choice. In 2019, I came to the conclusion to start taking Humira (a weekly self-injection) over a procedure that really did not sound too pleasant. This was a tough decision, but I knew if I wanted to experience normal life again, I had to take this step.

Johns Hopkins Medicine has a great article about vitamins and if they really do provide any benefit to you. The studies done showed that taking a regular multivitamin did not reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, mental declines or an early death. Larry Appel, M.D. said “Pills are not a shortcut to better health and the prevention of chronic diseases.” I could not agree more with this. As I have progressed in my disease, I realized how important nutrition is to my well-being. You can get all the same vitamins and minerals from your food. In fact, it is better to obtain those nutrients from your diet because your body better absorbs them.

Dosage of vitamins is another important factor to consider. Healthline has a great summary of how multivitamins can be harmful in some cases. The appropriate dosage depends on the vitamin’s solubility which is broken down into two categories: water-soluble and fat-soluble. Vitamin A toxicity is more common and pregnant women should watch their intake. If you take a multivitamin and also get the same nutrients from the food you eat each day, you could be exceeding your recommended amount. In my case, iron supplements cause stomach upset or constipation which is why I always take it with food.

Bottom line, there is no significant research that suggests taking a daily multivitamin will reduce your chance of getting cancer, heart disease or other chronic conditions. Multivitamins are not for everyone, but it is especially important for pregnant women, older adults, vegans and vegetarians to look into a supplement for their specific situation and to talk to their doctor before starting any vitamin or supplement. It is also important to understand that you should not take a multivitamin as a way to compensate for a poor diet. Remember that your food has the best nutrients in it and can provide you with everything you need to live healthfully. Check out this link to Harvard Health for a list of vitamins with their benefits and recommended dosage if you want to learn more.

There is a huge craze right now surrounding collagen. Anyone have any insights on this or have personally seen benefits from taking collagen?

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