Vitamins are organic compounds that the body needs in small amounts for various metabolic processes.
Vitamin supplementscan be beneficial when taken in addition to a balanced diet and lifestyle changes, but they cannot replace a healthy diet. Folate is the natural form of vitamin B9, which is soluble in water and found naturally in many foods. It is also added to foods and sold as a supplement in the form of folic acid; this form is absorbed better than that of food by 85%.
Folate helps form DNA and RNA, participates in protein metabolism, and plays a key role in the breakdown of homocysteine, an amino acid that can be harmful if present in large quantities. It is also needed to produce healthy red blood cells and is essential during periods of rapid growth, such as during pregnancy and fetal development. When it comes to diet, it is important to choose fish, poultry, beans, and nuts; limit red meat and cheese; and avoid bacon, cold cuts, and other processed meats. Sugary drinks should be avoided as they are high in calories and offer little nutrition.
If you are recommended to take vitamin supplements, it's a good idea to consult with a dietitian who can provide dietary advice related to your situation. It is extremely rare to reach a toxic level when ingesting folate from food sources. However, if you decide to use a folic acid supplement, follow the lowest available range of 400 mcg a day or less, as you're likely to get additional folic acid from fortified foods such as cereals and breads, as well as natural folate in foods. The Food and Drug Administration requires food manufacturers to add folic acid to commonly consumed foods, such as bread, cereal, pasta, rice and other grain-based products, to reduce the risk of neural tube defects.
Feeling overwhelmed doesn't necessarily lead to vitamin deficiency, so taking a vitamin supplement won't necessarily make feelings of stress go away. It's not just about the type of food you eat, but also about how much you eat and the combinations of types of food you eat. Some complementary medications, such as vitamin supplements, can interact with prescription drugs and medical treatments. Remember to report any complementary medications (including vitamin and mineral supplements) you are taking when you visit a health professional.
Look for a supplement that contains the vitamin or mineral you need without a lot of other unnecessary ingredients. While more research is needed before the relationship between certain foods and bone health can be definitively established, the many general health benefits of these foods make them excellent options for adding to the diet. For example, vitamin C is suggested as a cure for the common cold, while vitamin E is widely promoted as an antioxidant that helps prevent heart disease. However, there is no evidence that taking large doses of any vitamin can stop or reverse the effects of aging.