More than a third of all Americans take a multivitamin daily, according to the National Institute of Health, and it’s possible to get virtually every vitamin the human body needs in supplement form. Many of us include them in our daily routines in the pursuit of making our immune systems and other bodily functions stronger. However, some grand claims have been made about vitamin supplements — from vitamin C’s power for curing colds to vitamin D’s potential for curing almost anything— that have, under scientific examination, been discovered to be exaggerated or untrue. After all, supplements are meant to supplement our food, which is where we’re meant to get the vast majority of our vitamins. There’s a lot about that daily pill you may not know.
Science is also still discovering many things about vitamin supplements and how they may help or hinder health, including the genetics that mean some of us respond differently to others. Some vitamins are definitely necessary for various groups; doctors agree, for instance, that folic acid is a necessary supplement for pregnant people because of its proven ability to help prevent birth defects. However, vitamins are more complicated than they might seem. Here are some quickfire facts about vitamins, their history, and their impact on human health.
Vitamin D Might Help Fight Sunburn
We all know that we get vitamin D through absorbing it through our skin — but a study in 2017 found that it might also be helpful when taken in supplement form shortly after experiencing a sunburn. It created some anti-inflammatory action and helped reduce swelling and pain, so if you’ve been burned, reach for both the aloe vera and the vitamin D.
It Could Also Improve Gut Microflora
A study in 2016 found that in mice who had metabolic syndrome, vitamin D supplements appeared to positively affect their gut microbiomes, or the collection of bacteria that helps our digestive system work. Metabolic syndrome is a collection of conditions that increase susceptibility to type 2 diabetes, stroke, and other illnesses. It’s not known yet whether this effect happens in humans too, but a 2018 study found that around one third of American adults have metabolic syndrome, so it could be a very vital step in treating a common issue.
There’s Evidence That Folic Acid Might Help Health Long-Term
Folic acid has a solid reputation for helping the health of pregnant people and their growing babies, but it may also help general health long-term. The National Health Service reports that a large study in China discovered that long-term use of folic acidappeared to reduce the risk of stroke and cardiovascular illness. It’s just one study, so more work needs to be done to replicate the findings.
Calcium Is Good For Bones, But Can Cause Some Side Effects
Calcium supplements can help with bone health if you’re not getting enough calcium in your diet for some reason, but Harvard Health notes that they’ve been linked to health issues. Calcium taken in supplements, as opposed to vitamins absorbed from milk products and other foods, have been found to heighten the risk of kidney stones and heart attacks.
Vitamin K2 Could Help Bone Density In Older Women
Post-menopausal women should take vitamin K2 to help with their bone mineral density, as they might help with reducing bone injuries and fractures, according to studies collected by Healthline. They point out, however, that some studies have shown this effect is a bit inconsistent — which could be to do with other health factors, genetics, or other elements we don’t yet understand.