The human body requires a certain amount of vitamins to maintain a healthy lifestyle and nutrition. Vitamins are organic compounds that are found naturally in foods but can also be synthetically created and put into a supplemental pill. Well known vitamins include calcium, protein, iron and more. Here are some terms to know when you are at a vitamin and supplement store.
Metabolism – Metabolism is a chemical reaction within the body that converts food into energy. People suffering from a slow metabolism may experience weight gain or a lack of energy. People can increase their metabolism by taking in more vitamin B through food or supplements.
Anemia – Anemia is a lack of red blood cells in a person’s blood stream which causes lack of energy and damage to the heart and lungs long term. Anemia often indicates a deficiency in vitamin B6 or B12 which is found in meats, whole grains, nuts, vegetables and bananas.
Overdose – An overdose is when a person takes more than the recommended amount of a substance such as vitamins. It is nearly impossible to overdose on vitamins through natural food however it is possible when consuming supplements. Overdoses of vitamins can lead to nausea, diarrhea and vomiting which is why men and women should consult their doctor before taking supplements.
Fortify – Food products are occasionally fortified with vitamins and minerals which means these nutrients are added in. Vitamins A and D are added to milk, orange juice is fortified with calcium and iron is added to cereals for extra nutrition.
Herbs – Herbs are natural plants which are mostly used for spicing food while cooking but also used as medicinal supplements. Herbs in pill form can be found at health stores.
The history of vitamin supplements really begins with a specific disease. Sailors on long voyages displayed classic symptoms...a weakening of the gums causing tooth loss, physical weakness and on rare occasions old wounds would reopen. In 1747, James Lind, a Royal Navy surgeon performed what is believed to be the first truly controlled experiment. He proved that providing sailors with lemon or lime juice in addition to their food prevented the disease.
It was far longer before Vitamin C was isolated. Vitamin deficiencies still occur in the modern world. For example, individuals seeking to minimize sun exposure can end up deficient in Vitamin D. Calcium supplementation is very popular with older women and with pregnant or nursing mothers. Iron is used to treat anemia and fiber supplementation is often used as a cure for constipation. Minerals such as magnesium may also be supplemented. Protein shakes are often used by weight lifters and body builders.
Supplements are not just used to fix a deficiency. Diet pills are very popular with those seeking rapid weight loss. Some supplements are believed to promote the metabolism or to improve energy levels. Some 'superfoods' or 'super nutrients' are touted as having a variety of health benefits.
Some supplements are natural, but many are artificial. Multivitamins are generally put together specifically for women or men, and for different age groups, and are intended to be taken daily. Supplementation is used when obtaining a balanced diet is difficult, or for specific nutrition needs. While better nutrition is best obtained through food choices, this is not always possible.
Grocery stores, drug stores and specialized health food stores all sell supplements. Drug stores may, however, only sell popular supplements such as calcium and the more common herbals, but often at a discount. Natural herbs, plants and other organic sources are increasingly popular.