If you want to stay healthy, vitamins seem like a slam dunk. Taking a few small pills on the regular gives your body more of what it needs, right? Sure, in some cases. But too much of certain vitamins can actually be harmful (too much vitamin A, for example, can be bad for your bones). Plus, your body can actually create some vitamins — like niacin, choline, and biotin — on its own.
So which vitamins are you probably already getting from your diet and which ones do you need to supplement with a pill? The real answer is: it depends on what you eat and your specific body. That said, there are a few vitamins most Americans are deficient in. And just for the heck of it, we’re going to throw in some minerals you need, too. If you want to make sure you’re covered, consider adding these to your daily dose.
Vitamin B6: This vitamin helps you get quality sleep and keep your mood balanced. It also protects against heart disease and, since it supports your immune system, sickness in general.
Vitamin B9 (folic acid): B9 is key in your body’s ability to create new cells. Plus, it helps your body defend itself against heart disease, colon cancer, and breast cancer.
Vitamin B12*: Another important one for cell creation, B12 helps your body make new cells and protect existing ones. It joins the other B vitamins in lowering your risk of heart disease, too.
Vitamin D: Your body needs this vitamin to keep your bones strong. And while it can use sunlight to make vitamin D on its own, most people still don’t have enough of this nutrient.
Calcium: Another important one for strong, healthy bones, calcium also helps you maintain healthy blood pressure levels and supports normal muscle movement.
Iron*: Not only does iron help your blood move oxygen throughout your body, but you also need it to create amino acids, hormones, collagen, and neurotransmitters.
Magnesium: Getting enough magnesium protects your bones. It also helps your muscles contract and relax normally and supports healthy blood pressure levels.
Zinc*: Your body uses zinc to make enzymes, protein, and new cells. It also helps you stay healthy by supporting your immune system and enables your senses of taste and smell.
*These ones are especially important if you’re vegetarian or vegan.
Now you know! And don’t worry that you need to be taking a big handful of pills every day. You can probably find a multivitamin that covers a lot of these bases.