What You Need to Know About Vitamin C, Vitamin B, Turmeric, and Fish Oil/Omega-3

Here’s what you need to know about these popular nutritional supplements and why they can be beneficial.

By Avery Hurt
Jan 3, 2024 2:00 PM
(Credit: Lallapie/Shutterstock)


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Taking supplements has been a popular health trend for the last few years. Drug store shelves are filled with dozens of different options that come in a variety of gummy or pill forms. Though many claim that supplements are key for our health, there’s a lot you need to know before you start adding supplements to your diet. Here is what you need to know on some of the most popular supplements.   

Read More: Do Multivitamins Work and How Do You Know If You Need One?

What Is the Best Form of Taking Vitamin C?


Vitamin C, formally known as L-ascorbic acid, is essential for many of the body’s processes. Vitamin C is involved in protein metabolism, the production of collagen, and the synthesis of some neurotransmitters. And that’s just the highlights. There’s also research suggesting that, because of C’s antioxidant properties, the vitamin may play a role in preventing cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

Your body doesn’t make vitamin C; it has to come from food. Fortunately, many fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C. Sweet red peppers, oranges, orange juice, and broccoli all contain vitamin C. Even a baked potato provides 19 percent of your daily requirement of this essential nutrient.

What Is a Vitamin C Supplement?

Supplements usually contain C in the form of ascorbic acid, which has bioavailability equivalent to that of the ascorbic acid you get from foods. Vitamin C is water-soluble. That means whatever your body doesn’t use, you just pee out. It doesn’t accumulate in your tissues. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t take too much. Too much-unabsorbed vitamin C in the gastrointestinal tract can cause diarrhea, nausea, and cramps. 

What Do Vitamin B Suppelments Do?

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There is a whole family of B vitamins: B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B7 (biotin), B12, and folic acid. As you can imagine, with a roster this big, the Bs play a variety of roles in the body. Major jobs of the B-complex include helping form red blood cells and making energy from food. Various B vitamins are involved in neurological functioning as well.

Is it Better to Take B12 or B-complex?

Fish, meat, eggs, and dairy products are good sources of B vitamins. Leafy greens and legumes have some B vitamins, though not B12. B12 is found primarily in animal products, so people who eat no animal products at all must take supplements or find an alternative source of the vitamin, such as fortified nutritional yeast.

Like vitamin C, B-complex vitamins are water-soluble, so it’s hard to overdose on them. However, at high doses, some B vitamins can cause trouble. High doses of B6 can cause tingling or loss of feeling in the arms or legs. In one study, supplements of B-complex vitamins were associated with an increased risk of lung cancer in men who smoked. Over a long period of time, high doses of B3 can cause liver damage. 

Read More: They May Taste Good but are Gummy Vitamins Effective?

What Are the Benefits and Cons of Turmeric Supplements?

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Turmeric is a plant in the ginger family, and its root is widely used as a seasoning in food, particularly in South Asian dishes. However, turmeric is also a part of traditional medicine in India and China. Today, turmeric is often used as a dietary supplement to treat arthritis, digestive disorders, respiratory infections, liver disease, depression, and many more conditions. Some research indicates that turmeric might prove useful in developing treatments for dementia. However, the potential benefits and mechanisms of turmeric are still being researched.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrated Health (NCCIH) says turmeric is probably safe when taken orally or applied to the skin, as long as you stay within recommended amounts. However, the agency warns that turmeric supplements may be unsafe during pregnancy, and little is known about whether it is safe to breastfeed while taking higher amounts of turmeric than are commonly found in food. 

What Does Taking Fish Oil/Omega-3 Supplements Do for You?

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Fish oil is another popular supplement. The benefit is generally thought to derive from the generous amounts of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil. Certain fish — mackerel, salmon, tuna, herring — are particularly high in these compounds. You can also buy fish oil supplements that contain omega-3s.

Fish oil has an anti-inflammatory effect, making it potentially useful for diseases that involve inflammation, such as heart disease and inflammatory arthritis. Fish oil has also been shown to reduce blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Side effects are minimal but can include a fishy taste or fishy breath, nausea, heartburn, or diarrhea. Very large doses could potentially cause bleeding and increase the risk of stroke.

Be sure to talk with your healthcare team before taking any supplements. It’s important to get the dose right and to avoid potential interactions with any other supplements or prescription medicines you may be taking.

Read More: What You Need to Know About Vitamin D and Supplements

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