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All About Vitamins and Supplements

Posted by Brianna Maguire on Feb 3rd 2020

Your health and wellness is critical - that’s why we offer the vitamins and supplements you need to enjoy a complete, balanced diet. Whether you’re looking for an all-in-one multivitamin or you need targeted nutrition because of a deficiency, we have the products you need.

Learn about:


What are vitamins and minerals?

Vitamins and Supplements are designed to fill gaps in nutrition, especially for those that aren’t meeting dietary requirements from food alone. Coming mostly from food, vitamins are essential organic compounds that help us sustain healthy lifestyles.

Each vitamin has a unique purpose in our bodies, and they all work together to ensure we are happy and healthy. Most vitamins and supplements can be found in a balanced, healthy diet, and adding supplements should never be a substitute for eating healthy. However, these supplements can help those with deficiencies get back on track.

Some studies also report that vitamins have the potential to improve joint health, put off the onset of Alzheimer’s, or manage other symptoms of illness. However, keep in mind that it’s always a good rule of thumb to talk to your doctor before incorporating vitamins and supplements into your diet.


What are the different kinds of vitamins?

Vitamin A

  • Other names: retinol, retinal, carotenoids, or beta carotene
  • Benefits: helps maintain normal vision, the immune system, and reproduction, among other things.
  • Good sources of vitamin A in food are carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and kale.

Vitamin B1

  • Other names: Thiamine
  • Benefits: Helps with metabolism, and nerve, muscle and heart function
  • Good sources of vitamin B are walnuts, peanuts, milk, salmon and pork

Vitamin B2

  • Other names: Riboflavin
  • Benefits: Improved growth, helps oxygen be used by the body
  • Good sources in food are asparagus, bananas, okra, chard, cottage cheese, milk, yogurt, meat, eggs, fish, green beans

Vitamin B3

  • Other names: niacin, niacinamide
  • Benefits: Lowers cholesterol, may help prevent heart disease, boosts brain function
  • Good sources in food are Chicken, beef, fish, milk, eggs, avocados

Vitamin B5

  • Other names: Pantothenic acid
  • Benefits: Promotes red blood cells, helps maintain healthy digestion, and helps convert food into energy
  • Good sources in food are meats, whole grains, broccoli, and avocados

Vitamin B6

  • Other names: Pyridoxine
  • Benefits: Promotes a healthy metabolism, and the health of nerves, skin and red blood cells.
  • Good sources in food are pork, poultry, fish, bread, eggs, vegetables

Vitamin B7

  • Other names: Biotin
  • Benefits: Hair and nail growth, promotes healthy metabolism
  • Good sources in food are walnuts, peanuts, cereals, milk, and egg yolks.

Vitamin B9

  • Other names: Folic Acid
  • Benefits: Improved tissue health and cell function. B9 is an important prenatal vitamin.
  • Good sources in food are leafy vegetables, legumes, some fortified grain products, and sunflower seeds.

Vitamin B12

  • Other names: Cyanocobalamin, hydroxocobalamin, methylcobalamin
  • Benefits: Keeps nerve and blood cells healthy, helps prevent anemia, helps prevent birth defects
  • Good sources in food are fish, meat, eggs, milk

Vitamin C

  • Other names: Ascorbic acid
  • Benefits: Stronger immune system, can be used to treat vitamin C deficiencies
  • Good sources in food are broccoli, cantaloupe, cauliflower, oranges, papaya, and yellow pepper

Vitamin D

  • Other names: Ergocalciferol and cholecalciferol
  • Benefits: Important supplement for those with osteoporosis, promotes healthy bones and teeth
  • Good sources in food are fatty fish, cheese, egg yolks

Vitamin E

  • Other names: Gamma-tocopherol
  • Benefits: Promotes healthy vision, reproduction, blood, brain and skin.
  • Good sources in food are corn, almonds, peanuts, vegetable oils, spinach, avocados, squash, trout, and shrimp.

Vitamin K

  • Other names: Phytonadione
  • Benefits: Promotes healthy blood regulation and bone metabolism, as well as blood clotting
  • Good sources in food are leafy vegetables, spinach, collard, chard, romaine lettuce

What are the different vitamins and supplements available?

Supplements come in many shapes and sizes, with various mixes of vitamins and minerals inside.

Multivitamins

Multivitamins are one of the most common forms of supplement. They typically have many - or all - of the essential vitamins, mixed into one convenient package. Some studies report that multivitamins can help with mood, memory (specifically on older adults), and immunity.

Joint Health Supplements

Joint health supplements are specially designed to promote joint health and minimize pain from arthritis. Oftentimes, these work by keeping the cartilage in the joints healthy.

Specific Vitamin Supplements

Most supplements are specific to one vitamin or mineral. Vitamin C supplements, for example, are ideal for those that are vitamin C deficient. These type of vitamins work best for those looking to fill a deficiency.


Who should use vitamins and supplements?

Vitamins and supplements are ideal for:

  • Those that are not meeting dietary requirements with food alone
  • Older adults, who likely need to supplement their consumption of B12, calcium, and vitamin D
  • Vegans and vegetarians that are missing key vitamins and minerals from meat (mainly B12, calcium, zinc, vitamin D, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids).
  • Those on low-calorie diets
  • Those with poor appetite
  • Those that are lactose-intolerant and need to supplement calcium intake

As a good rule of thumb, you should not make significant changes to your diet - like adding a vitamin or supplement - without first consulting your doctor.


Who shouldn’t use these?

Vitamins and supplements are likely not a good choice for:

  • Those who have not spoken to their doctor
  • Those that can get their nutrients from food
  • Those that do not have a vitamin deficiency
  • In some cases, those that are pregnant and breast-feeding (talk to your doctor about what’s best for you).

How do I use these?

Vitamins and supplements should be used:

  • In most cases, under doctor supervision
  • By precisely following the instructions on the label
  • Without exceeding daily recommended amounts
  • Either with or without food - check the label to know for sure
  • By those who are not also taking prescription drugs (talk to your doctor)

What does “IU” mean?

You may notice that many vitamins and supplements come with an “IU” measurement. “IU” is a term that stands for International Unit. It’s the unit of measurement for vitamins and some prescription drugs, and it can help you figure out how strong or weak each supplement is. In general 1 IU is roughly equivalent to .667 mg.

If you find IU confusing, it may be better just to measure by percent daily value.


What features exist?

Different amounts of each vitamin

Each supplement comes with a specific amount of each vitamin, so consider which vitamins it is that you’re looking for. If you just need a little extra vitamin C, go for the vitamin C supplement, not the multivitamin.

Need-specific options

Some supplements - like joint health supplements - are specially designed to address a specific need.

Flavors

Most vitamins are unflavored, but some may have flavor.

Strength

Some vitamins are stronger than others. When deciding which vitamin is right for you, think about the daily required amount of that vitamin, the strength of the supplement, and how much of the vitamin you may already be getting from your diet. If you find strength values like “IU” and “mg” confusing, just focus on the percent daily value that specific vitamin is meeting.

Minerals

Some supplements contain minerals like Calcium and Iron. These can help with bone or blood health, and your doctor may recommend specific minerals to look for.

Gluten-free

Some of our supplements are gluten-free, making them a great choice for those with gluten intolerance.


Caregiver Favorites

Our caregivers love vitamins and supplements from brands like Sunmark, Geri-Care, McKesson and Nature’s Blend.

Take care of your vitamin needs in one, convenient pill with McKesson Multivitamins. Plus, added iron helps promote blood health and prevent anemia.


This joint health supplement helps keep the cartilage between joints healthy, which may relieve some pain for those with arthritis.  


Brittany's Pro-Tip

Keep in mind that many supplements are not strictly regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. That means that sometimes companies don’t put exact amounts on their supplements. While all our brands are well-recognized and secure, you’ll want to be careful shopping for supplements elsewhere. A good rule of thumb is to always talk to a qualified healthcare provider before taking vitamins and supplements.

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