Every vitamin and mineral has various functions in your body, but when it comes to how and when they benefit you, there are some similarities across the board. Supplementing with any vitamin or mineral can have significant positive benefits for your body, but only under certain circumstances.
By far the greatest improvements from taking vitamin or mineral supplements are seen when you take a supplement containing substances that you have a deficiency in. Vitamin or mineral deficiencies cause numerous problems related to how your body functions, such as decreased energy, increased aches or pains, weakened immune system, poor bone density, etc. When you take a supplement that corrects a deficiency, the negative symptom(s) can be greatly improved.
On the other hand, if you already get enough of a vitamin or mineral, taking more of it generally provides minimal, if any, further improvements and taking high levels of some nutrients can be toxic. People often have the attitude that if one serving is good, then two or three servings must be better, but this is not the case. Your goal when taking vitamins and minerals is to give your body as much as it needs to function properly, but anything more than that has diminishing returns.
I should point out that the amounts of vitamins and minerals your body needs is not always adequately reflected by the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance). In some cases, such as with Vitamin C and other antioxidants, the amount you need can be many times higher than the RDA.
In general, the RDA represents values that prevent disease, not create optimal physical function. Optimal function sometimes results from getting nutrients in higher quantities than the RDA, but this varies from nutrient to nutrient. Determining how much you need of each nutrient is a complicated issue and certainly too big to be covered in this article.
To sum up vitamins and minerals, if you have any significant deficiencies, which most people do, supplementing with those nutrients is definitely beneficial and the results are worth the money. However, if you read about the specific benefits of different nutrients, each one generally has a long list of benefits, but you should not expect to see significant improvements in all the listed benefits, even if you have a deficiency.
On the other hand, if you take vitamins and minerals with the hope of achieving quick and drastic improvements in health, fitness, or weight loss, then you will probably be disappointed. Most people will benefit from taking at least some vitamins and/or minerals, but they are not miracle products that improve everything.
14 years of experience and education in health and fitness