Do I Need to Take Vitamin Supplements?

Vitamins and minerals, such as iron, calcium and vitamin C, are essential nutrients that your body needs in only small amounts to work properly.

Do I Need to Take Vitamin Supplements?

Most people don’t need to take vitamin supplements and can get all the vitamins and minerals they need from eating a healthy, balanced diet.

But, depending on your diet, you may need to take certain supplements to cover off those nutrients you aren’t getting from food.

Or if a blood test from your doctor shows that you’re deficient in a certain nutrient (for example iron or Vitamin B12) then a supplement could be required to replenish your body’s reserves.

According to a Harvard Health report, most studies have found no major benefit from multivitamins in protecting the brain or heart. But there are potential benefits and no risks from a one daily standard multivitamin.

The Physicians’ Health Study II is the most complete study done in this area so far. It was the first and only large-scale randomized clinical trial to test a commonly taken multivitamin like the ones most people commonly take, containing the daily requirements of many vitamins and minerals essential for good health.

A large group of male physicians took either a multivitamin or a placebo pill for more than a decade. Results were mixed, with modest reductions in cancer, but no protective effects against cardiovascular disease or even mental functioning.

So while the likelihood of harm is small, the likelihood of a clear health benefit also seems small, and no clear proof yet of benefits.

Multivitamin advocates point to the lack of any strong proof that taking a multivitamin for many years is dangerous.

The optimists say despite no clear evidence of health benefit, multivitamin supplementation is low risk and low cost.

And again, it helps to fill potential gaps in our modern diets.

Is it worth considering a multivitamin as part of a healthy lifestyle?

Take these steps first:

  • Assess your diet, do you eat as healthy as you could? What’s lacking?
  • Ask your doctor if you need to take a multivitamin. Do you have a vitamin deficiency?
  • See a dietitian. Seek nutritional advice from an expert.
  • Some vitamins such as A and E have healthy per day limits.

Start with asking yourself why you would consider taking a multivitamin.

If you suspect your diet is nutritionally lacking, focus your attention there first.

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