You can hear the voice of your doctor (and your mom) in your ear: Don’t forget to take your vitamins! It’s not that you have anything against vitamins. It’s just that you’re balancing a lot of things. There’s work and kids’ swimming lessons and fixing dinner and clean-up and helping kids with homework and the whole bedtime routine and then, there you are again, drifting off to sleep realizing that you forgot to take your vitamin—again!
What’s at Stake?
Let’s back up and talk about why vitamins matter. Low intake of certain nutrients has been associated with chronic disease. That includes some types of cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, and depression. For kids, being low on essential nutrients can stunt growth (including muscle growth), compromise their bones and teeth, hurt their vision, and weaken their immune system, including their ability to resist and heal from infections.
Isn’t Good Food Enough?
While it’s best to get nutrition from food, it’s not always easy to do so in today’s world. Here are a few reasons why:
We’re in a hurry. If we had time to grill lean meat and make a beautiful salad at each meal, replete with leafy greens and topped with richly-coloured veggies, we’d be set. But the reality is, most of us run at max capacity. We can’t always spare the hours that it takes to keep the kitchen stocked with fresh foods or to prepare them.
The processed stuff tastes better. If given a choice between a carrot and a packaged cookie, many of us would reach for the latter. Our taste buds have become accustomed to high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavourings and lots of salt. Thus, we tend to gravitate away from nutrient-packed foods towards empty calories.
It’s more expensive. Keeping fresh, healthy food around can cost more—at least in the short term. Case in point: compare the price tag on a container of fresh raspberries to a bag of potato chips.
Based on your health needs and stage of life, you’ll need to decide what supplements are best to fill in your nutritional gaps. Many people benefit from a good multi-vitamin. Women in the reproductive years are urged to take folic acid, while women who are aging often benefit from Vitamin D and calcium. Talk to your doctor to find out what he or she recommends.
A Few Practical Tips
So now we’re back to our original question: how do you remember to take the vitamin? I have talked to many people who have invested in the best vitamins out there only to have them languish in the kitchen cabinet, untouched. We don’t want this to happen to you, so here are our best tips to help you and your children remember to take those all-important vitamins.
Keep them in plain sight. We know, we know--you like tidy countertops. But given all that there is to gain by remembering to take your vitamins, a little clutter for the sake of your health may not hurt. If your vitamins are tucked away behind a cabinet door, it will be much harder to remember to take them, so keep them out where the sight of them will serve as a daily reminder.
These handy little pill cases are especially helpful if you need to take multiple pills. Fill them up every Sunday, and don’t forget to place them where you’ll see them.
These keep you from wondering if you’ve taken your pill for the day or not, which can prevent you from inadvertently doubling up.
Combine. If you need to take several vitamins at a time, it can start to feel like a big, daunting process. See if there’s a multi-vitamin that contains all (or some) of the nutrients you need and simplify your daily dose.
Attach them to a daily habit. Think of something that you do every day and attach your vitamin-taking to that habit, i.e., “I will take my pills every morning with my customary bowl of oatmeal.” Attaching vitamin-taking to one of your meals can be a good idea, because many vitamins should be taken with food.
Just be sure to do your homework because certain vitamins should not be taken with certain foods. For example, if you take zinc supplements, avoid eating whole grain foods, bran, milk, yogurt, cheese or ice cream at the same time as you take the supplements as they could limit zinc absorption.
Use technology. Program your phone, smartwatch or virtual assistant to remind you to take your vitamin at a certain time each day.
What About the Kids?
You can do your kids a big favour by getting them in the habit of taking their vitamins starting at a young age. Here are a few ideas to encourage that habit.
Set them out at meals. Put the vitamins next to your child’s breakfast or dinner dishes each day so that they can easily take them with their meal.
Try chewable forms. Fortunately, there are lots of options for making vitamins easy to take, from chewable capsules to tablets to gummies. Just make sure that you look for natural children’s vitamins that aren’t heavy on artificial flavours, sweeteners, and colours.
Be consistent. The more consistent you are with giving your kids their vitamins, the easier it will be for them to internalize the habit, and strong habits built in youth have a good chance of carrying into adulthood.
Be patient with yourself. You’ve probably heard that it takes 21 days to build a habit. That’s from a book published in the 1960s called Psycho-Cybernetics, but more recent studies show that it can take closer to 66 days.
Account for life changes. For example, a summer vacation may put a wrench in your consistency. If you do fall off the wagon, get back on as quickly as you can. It may take a while before taking your daily vitamins is second nature, but considering what the right vitamins can mean for your health, it will be well worth the sustained effort.
Disclaimer: The health information published on this web page is solely intended for educational purposes. VitaminsOnly strongly recommends to consult health care professionals for any questions concerning your health.
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