Vitamins and minerals are essential because they perform a wide array of roles when it comes to keeping the body healthy. For example, boosting the immune system, giving us energy, strengthening bones, healing wounds, and repairing damage done to our cells.

The best way that you can get vitamins and minerals is by eating a healthy diet. As a family physician, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends patients include a variety of fruits, vegetables, milk and milk products, whole grains and seafood as part of their food plan. In some cases, individuals may not get the necessary amount of vitamins and minerals required to keep them healthy. This could be due to a number of reasons; everything from having an unhealthy or calorie-restricted diet, food sensitivities or allergies, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Certain health conditions can also lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. For example, anemia and low iron levels go hand in hand. Even those with healthy eating habits may find it difficult to keep track of whether or not they’re getting all the essential nutrients they need. This is where supplements come in.

Standard multivitamin supplements usually consist of water-soluble vitamins (vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, B6, biotin, folic acid, and B12), fat-soluble vitamins (vitamin A, D, E, and K), as well as minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, iron, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc.

When choosing a supplement it’s important to pay close attention to the labels as certain supplements are specifically designed for certain age groups and genders. For example, supplements designed for women tend to contain extra iron due to the fact that women actually lose iron during their periods, as well as extra calcium as women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than males. Oppositely, men require less iron than women; therefore supplements that are designed for men contain lower levels. Supplements designed for seniors also contain less iron and vitamin K, and higher levels of vitamin D and B12. Women who are pregnant (or are planning to get pregnant) should take prenatal supplements, as they contain higher levels of folic acid, which helps to prevent birth defects. It’s also important to make sure the supplement you choose contains a variety of vitamins and minerals and not just one specific type. It should also provide the recommended dietary allowance for each vitamin and mineral listed (and does not go any higher than that recommended allowance.) Certain vitamins and minerals, if taken in excess, can actually lead to health problems. Lastly, make sure you always read the labels for ingredients, as certain supplements may contain things like wheat, eggs, corn and gelatin, which some people may be allergic or sensitive to.

If you are having trouble picking the right supplement, Dr. Ali Ghahary is able to answer any questions you might have and is available to see patients on a walk-in basis at Brentwood Medical Clinic. Alternatively, pharmacists can also help you find a supplement best suited for you and your health needs.