Many of us stick to exercise routines and sleep routines. So why not adhere to a vitamin routine? Developing regimens for exercising, sleeping and taking dietary supplements encourages healthy habits.
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away. This popular expression indicates that apples are good for one’s health, and highlights the importance of routinely eating them,” according to a 2019 article in the Journal of Lifestyle Medicine about the importance of maintaining routines and habits. “Often the message individuals take away from the apple-a-day health advice is to eat more apples. However, perhaps the more important take away message is to eat nutritious foods regularly.”
For those who take (or want to take) multivitamins and other dietary supplements, regular consumption holds the potential to improve your health. But how do you create a vitamin and supplement routine?
Tips for Creating a Personalized Vitamin Routine
Determine your dietary needs
Registered dietitian Hannah Kittrell, director of the Mount Sinai Physiolab, recommends beginning with blood tests and nutrition evaluations to determine which vitamins and minerals are lacking in your diet.
If deficiencies are detected, a multivitamin might be a good place to start your vitamin and supplement routine, she says. About one-third of U.S. adults and one-fourth of U.S. children and adolescents take multivitamins, according to the federal Office of Dietary Supplements.
“While there is no silver bullet supplement to replace the benefits of a healthy diet, taking a multivitamin in addition to eating well-balanced meals can address common nutrient deficiencies,” according to the Cooper Clinic in Dallas.
Although it’s tough to generalize vitamin and supplement suggestions, Kittrell says micronutrient needs should be based on which of these groups you fit into along with each group’s generally recommended vitamins and minerals:
- Children and adolescents — Iron, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium
- Women — Iodine, vitamin D, vitamin B12, calcium, iron, folate
- Adults — Iron, iodine, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, vitamin D, vitamin C, calcium, vitamin A, magnesium
- Seniors — Vitamin B12, calcium, vitamin D, iron
Factors such as age and health status will dictate which vitamins and supplements are right for you. In the U.S., vitamin B6, iron and vitamin D deficiencies are the most common nutrient deficiencies, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Experts recommend determining which vitamins and supplements to take in consultation with your health care professional, who can review the benefits and risks with you.
“Everyone is so unique, and that’s why it’s important to make sure that the foods you eat and the vitamins you’re taking are personalized just for you and your lifestyle,” registered dietitian-nutritionist Angie Kuhn, director of research development at the Persona nutrition company, told the Organic Authority website.
Be wary of claims made about vitamins and supplements
Vitamins and other dietary supplements are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as foods, not drugs. The National Institutes of Health emphasizes that the label of a vitamin or supplement may boast certain health benefits. But, unlike medicines, supplements can’t claim to cure, treat or prevent a disease.
“There’s little evidence that any supplement can reverse the course of any chronic disease,” says Craig Hopp, a deputy division director at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. “Don’t take supplements with that expectation.”
Resist consumption of too many vitamin and supplements
According to Organic Authority, consuming too many vitamins and supplements can be too much of a good thing, potentially leading to problems such as diarrhea and nerve damage.
Be sure you focus on what you’re trying to accomplish with adoption of a vitamin and supplement routine. This can help you avoid going overboard.
“Not all vitamins do the same thing. Whether you’re looking to reduce stress, improve skin health, or supplement a vegan diet, the vitamins and minerals you add to your regimen will be different,” according to Organic Authority.
Also, be sure you’re taking the proper dosage of vitamins and supplements. Harvard Health Publishing and the Office of Dietary Supplements offer in-depth guidance on dosage. And be careful about combining supplements and mixing supplement and medicines.
“Some ingredients and products can be harmful when consumed in high amounts, when taken for a long time, or when used in combination with certain drugs or foods,” the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns.
Decide when to take vitamins and supplements
The Centrum vitamin brand suggests picking the same time every day to take vitamins and supplements. For example, some people may find it easier to do so in the morning, while others might prefer the evening.
“Choose the time of day that’s best for you and your lifestyle,” Centrum says.
A related tip: Figure out whether to take your vitamins and supplements before, during or after eating a snack or meal. U.S. News & World Report says most people need to take a high-dose multivitamin with food to prevent an upset stomach