Vitamins complement proper diet

Experts agree a well-balanced diet, full of nutrients and minerals, is important for maintaining good health. In today’s fast-paced world, some students and other on-the-go Americans have found themselves replacing entire sections of the food pyramid with vitamins.

“Vitamins control essential body functions,” Sanchez Emmanuel said. Emmanuel, a 28-year-old junior public management student from Tallahassee, is an employee at The Vitamin Shoppe, a retailer of vitamins and nutritional supplements.

He said vitamins must be supplied in either the diet or in supplements in order for the body to function properly. When the body doesn’t get enough vitamins, deficiencies result.

Jennifer Harrison-Hauer, a health educator in Student Health Services, said different vitamins have different functions.

She said the main function of vitamin supplements is to help replace the vitamins the body lacks.

“Vitamin supplements are convenient and potent,” Emmanuel said. “You can take a pill that contains as much Vitamin C as three oranges at one time.”

Recent studies have shown that because of schedules, eating habits and sleeping patterns, most college students replace their vitamin intake with supplements instead of consuming their vitamins through food.

“You should take vitamins based upon the food pyramid,” Harrison-Hauer said.

She said vitamin supplements are not needed if the proper diet is followed, and the use of supplements should be a second choice and not a first.

Harrison-Hauer explained the many types of vitamins that are essential for the body.

Vitamin A helps with eye sight and helps to maintain healthy skin. This vitamin can be found in eggs and milk. Vitamin B helps to give the body strength to carry out activities and is found in green vegetables and meats.

According to, Vitamin C aids in strengthening the gums and muscles and can be found in citrus fruits and tomatoes, and Vitamin D helps to strengthen bones and teeth. Good sources of Vitamin D are egg yolks and fish.

On the athletic end of the spectrum, Brett Richardson, an assistant baseball coach at, does not necessarily advocate vitamin use for his athletes.

“We don’t encourage our players to take vitamins,” Richardson said.

He said players taking vitamins depends on consultations with specialists so there are no discrepancies resulting in players being suspended from the season.

In regards to his own health, Richardson said he does not use vitamins, but said supplementary vitamins can be very helpful if taken properly.

Harrison-Hauer agreed. “You don’t have to take vitamins on a daily basis unless it is a necessity,” she said. “Don’t be dependent on them.”

Harrison-Hauer and Emmanuel both said they felt people who take supplementary vitamins sometimes take them with false assumptions.

“The advantage of vitamins is good health,” Emmanuel said.

He said vitamins are effective, inexpensive and unlikely to interfere with other medications. He said multi-vitamins help with vascular diseases, cancer and HIV/Aids.

In addition, he explained non-organic vitamins should be taken with food, and organic vitamins should be taken without food.

Harrison-Hauer said balance is the key to achieving good results.

“Someone taking vitamins should be mindful of what they need and don’t need,” she said. “All vitamins are not created equal. It’s all about balance.”