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Elemental
Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.

Guide To Vitamins

In Elemental. More on Medium.

Illustrations by Kieran Blakey

The latest science behind the 10 most popular, plus answers to that age-old question: Should you take them?

Vitamins and other supplements are more ubiquitous than ever: A 2019 Harris Poll found that 86% of Americans say they take them. But what does the science say about your go-to supplement? Elemental scrutinized the latest and best research on the 10 most popular supplements in America. Whether you’re taking something for your brain, your bones, or your blood, you’ll want to read this before you swallow another dose.


Guide to Vitamins

They seem like a safety net for better nutrition. Are they important for everyday health?

Illustrations by Kieran Blakey

This story is a part of The Elemental Guide to Vitamins. Here are the vitamins and supplements that are covered: multivitamins, vitamin D, vitamin C, calcium, B vitamins, omega-3, vitamin E, fiber, protein, and probiotics.

Multivitamins have been around since the 1930s. While it took Americans a while to warm up to the idea of swallowing a daily supplement, by the 1970s these products had become popular among both kids and adults. …


Guide to Vitamins

The case for a high fiber diet is strong. Will a supplement help you meet your quota?

Illustrations by Kieran Blakey

This story is a part of The Elemental Guide to Vitamins. Here are the vitamins and supplements that are covered: multivitamins, vitamin D, vitamin C, calcium, B vitamins, omega-3, vitamin E, fiber, protein, and probiotics.

Fiber is a funny thing. The human digestive system can’t absorb it — or even break it down very effectively — and the human body doesn’t put it to use building cells or doing any of the other jobs nutrients typically perform. But arguably no dietary component is linked with so many health benefits.

“Fiber has benefits throughout the digestive tract,” says Joanne Slavin, co-author…


Guide to Vitamins

30 to 50% of Americans are low in vitamin D. Are supplements the answer? It’s complicated.

Illustrations by Kieran Blakey

This story is a part of The Elemental Guide to Vitamins. Here are the vitamins and supplements that are covered: multivitamins, vitamin D, vitamin C, calcium, B vitamins, omega-3, vitamin E, fiber, protein, and probiotics.

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient. That means the human body needs it but can’t make it on its own. While people can get vitamin C, calcium, and pretty much all of the other essential nutrients from their diet, few foods contain much vitamin D. …


Guide to Vitamins

Kids need calcium for growth. Adults need it for bone health. Who should take it in pill form?

Illustrations by Kieran Blakey

This story is a part of The Elemental Guide to Vitamins. Here are the vitamins and supplements that are covered: multivitamins, vitamin D, vitamin C, calcium, B vitamins, omega-3, vitamin E, fiber, protein, and probiotics.

Calcium is an essential mineral that the human body uses to make healthy bone and teeth. It’s found in a lot of foods — everything from leafy greens and legumes to fish like sardines and salmon. But on a per-serving basis, dairy foods are the real calcium champs.

(Other food groups — especially leafy greens like kale — also contain calcium, but a person would…


Guide to Vitamins

How to know if fish oil is for you

Illustrations by Kieran Blakey

This story is a part of The Elemental Guide to Vitamins. Here are the vitamins and supplements that are covered: multivitamins, vitamin D, vitamin C, calcium, B vitamins, omega-3, vitamin E, fiber, protein, and probiotics.

During the past two decades, omega-3 supplements have gone from marginal to mainstream. By some estimates, roughly 10% of American adults now take omega-3 add-ons, which include “fish oil” products.

Omega-3s are termed “polyunsaturated” fatty acids, a word that refers to their molecular structure. They’re found mainly in foods like fish, nuts, seeds, and some plant oils. There are a handful of omega-3s, but the…


Guide to Vitamins

What researchers now know about the classic cold antidote

Illustrations by Kieran Blakey

This story is a part of The Elemental Guide to Vitamins. Here are the vitamins and supplements that are covered: multivitamins, vitamin D, vitamin C, calcium, B vitamins, omega-3, vitamin E, fiber, protein, and probiotics.

During the 1960s, noted biochemist and author Linus Pauling developed a novel theory of the human body, which he called “orthomolecular” medicine. In a nutshell, Pauling’s theory was that human health could be viewed as a complicated system of chemical reactions. …


Guide to Vitamins

Probiotics may have many benefits. Whether you can get them in pill form is another story

Illustrations by Kieran Blakey

This story is a part of The Elemental Guide to Vitamins. Here are the vitamins and supplements that are covered: multivitamins, vitamin D, vitamin C, calcium, B vitamins, omega-3, vitamin E, fiber, protein, and probiotics.

The human gut is filled with trillions of bacteria that are known collectively as the microbiome. And these microorganisms seem to play a crucial role in human health.

During the past 20 years, studies have repeatedly found that the microbiomes of sick people tend to differ from those of well people and that this is true even for people with brain diseases like dementia. In…


Guide to Vitamins

“Vitamin E is like the Tale of Two Cities

Illustrations by Kieran Blakey

This story is a part of The Elemental Guide to Vitamins. Here are the vitamins and supplements that are covered: multivitamins, vitamin D, vitamin C, calcium, B vitamins, omega-3, vitamin E, fiber, protein, and probiotics.

A lot of people assume that vitamin supplements are all upside. Worst case scenario, you pee out what your body doesn’t need. But the tale of a National Cancer Institute trial called SELECT should obliterate those assumptions.

SELECT stands for the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial, which began in 2001. Back then, researchers had turned up “considerable” evidence that vitamin E and selenium…


Guide to Vitamins

Protein supplements, powders, and shakes are all the rage. But are they necessary?

Illustrations by Kieran Blakey

This story is a part of The Elemental Guide to Vitamins. Here are the vitamins and supplements that are covered: multivitamins, vitamin D, vitamin C, calcium, B vitamins, omega-3, vitamin E, fiber, protein, and probiotics.

The human diet is composed of three so-called “macronutrients.” These are fats, carbohydrates, and protein. Protein can come from plants or animals, and it’s made up of chains of amino acids, which the body uses to build, repair, and maintain muscle and tissue.

While diets heavy in unhealthy carbohydrates or fats are often implicated in the development of obesity and disease, a lot of evidence…

Elemental

Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.

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