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Rodrigo Louvat
I am a Marketing Associate at Tera in charge of digital marketing and content creation, writing blog articles and newsletters. Drop me a line at rodrigo.louvat@hellotera.com if you feel like it!

Vitamins and Supplements 101: A Guide to Optimal Health

foods rich in vitamins

Vitamins and Minerals: The Unsung Heroes of Our Body

Our bodies are intricate machines, requiring a rich tapestry of nutrients to perform at their peak. These nutrients are not mere add-ons; they’re the very essence of our biological makeup. While our system manufactures some of these components, vitamins and minerals aren’t on that list. They need to be ingested, playing a pivotal role in a vast array of cellular processes.

Here’s a deeper dive into their unique natures:

  • Vitamins: These are organic molecules, meaning they contain carbon. Vitamins can be further categorized based on their solubility:
    • Fat-soluble (Vitamins A, D, E, and K) are stored in our body fat. These need to be consumed with fat to be absorbed properly. Excess intake can lead to accumulation in the body, so moderation is key.
    • Water-soluble (like the B vitamins and vitamin C) have a different story. They’re not stored in the body. Instead, any surplus is expelled through urine. This means regular intake is essential to prevent deficiencies.
  • Minerals: These are inorganic elements, essential co-factors for various enzymatic reactions in the body. Their functions are multifaceted:
    • Calcium not only strengthens bones but also aids in blood clotting and muscle contraction.
    • Potassium regulates heart rhythm, muscle contractions, and nerve impulses.
    • Iron is a vital component of hemoglobin, facilitating oxygen transport in our blood.
    • Magnesium, zinc, sodium, iodine, and many others, each bring a unique benefit, supporting everything from energy production to immune function.
image of the key vitamins in fruits

Why Supplement ?

In an ideal world, a colorful plate of fresh foods would suffice to provide all these nutrients. But, life, in its unpredictable rhythm, often has other plans:

  • Dietary Choices: If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you may miss out on vital nutrients like B12, iron, and omega-3s, which are abundant in animal sources.
  • Life Stages and Conditions: Pregnancy demands more of certain nutrients, making prenatal vitamins essential. Past the age of 50? The body’s ability to absorb certain nutrients, like vitamin B12, diminishes. Or perhaps you’re reaching your later years, it is essential to supplement so you can make sure your body is receiving enough nutrients.
  • Medical Reasons: Certain medications or medical conditions might interfere with nutrient absorption or increase nutrient needs. For instance, those on proton pump inhibitors like omeprazole might need additional B12 and calcium.
  • Modern Lifestyle: Stress, pollution, and processed foods—all ubiquitous in modern life—can deplete our nutrient reserves, making supplementation an ally.

Tread with Caution

But before you start, remember:

  • Supplements are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Their need varies based on individual factors.
  • Overdosing can have ramifications. Fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K can accumulate in the body, potentially reaching toxic levels.
  • ⚠️ Quality matters! With the supplement market not regulated as rigorously as pharmaceuticals, it’s crucial to opt for third-party certified products.
circle infographic of all the vitamins

Navigating the Supplement Aisle: A Comprehensive Guide

1. Understand the Regulation (or Lack Thereof)

While pharmaceutical drugs undergo rigorous testing and approvals, dietary supplements, for the most part, don’t. The government doesn’t regulate supplements with the same intensity, which means the onus of choosing the right product largely falls on the consumer.

2. The Importance of Third-Party Certifications

Enter third-party certifications. These are independent entities that verify the quality, potency, and purity of a product. Seeing a third-party certification on a label is a strong indicator that the product:

  • Contains the ingredients listed on the label, in the amounts specified.
  • Does not contain harmful levels of contaminants.
  • Was produced using safe, sanitary, and well-controlled procedures.

Popular third-party certifiers include NSF International, ConsumerLab, and the US Pharmacopeial Convention (USP).

3. Beyond the Label: Do Your Research

Given the lack of stringent regulations, a bit of due diligence goes a long way:

  • Check for Transparency: Brands that are transparent about their sourcing, production processes, and testing methods are often more reliable.
  • Reviews and Feedback: Check for product reviews, but be discerning. Look for patterns, both good and bad, in feedback.
  • Professional Recommendations: Sometimes, it might be beneficial to consult with a nutritionist, doctor, or other healthcare professional who can provide insights or recommend reputable brands.

4. Beware of Red Flags

While navigating the supplement aisle, stay alert for potential red flags:

  • Too Good to be True Claims: If a supplement claims to be a miracle cure or promises rapid results, approach with caution.
  • Proprietary Blends: This term is often used when manufacturers don’t want to disclose the precise amount of each ingredient. It can make it challenging to determine the potency and value of the product.
  • Expiration Dates: Like any other product, supplements too have a shelf life. Check for expiry dates to ensure potency.
salmon bowl

Product Recomendations

We here at Tera respect and admire the work of Dr. Mark Hyman. Mark Hyman, MD is leading a health revolution—one focused on using food as medicine to support longevity, energy, mental clarity, happiness, and so much more. He is a practicing family physician and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator, and advocate in the field of Functional Medicine. He shares our vision of a world where disease is prevented before it needs to be “cured”. We highly recommend you check out his recommended list of Mineral Supplements if you decide Minerals are right for you.

Vitamins for vitality

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