For years, millions of Americans have taken pills and vitamin supplements in hopes of warding off the flu, a cold, or the latest bug around. For some, a multivitamin is their choice. Studies show that a multivitamin can be an excellent source of nutrients to keep the body healthy and strong, especially for people with nutrient deficiencies.
However, studies also pointed out that multivitamins do not prevent more serious conditions such as cardiovascular disease. Another one study noted only slight health benefits from taking a daily multivitamin.
Dr. Jennifer Crane with Advocate Medical Group in Oswego, Illinois, states, “The best way to get nutrients is to eat a well-balanced diet. However, for populations that are at higher risk for poor nutrition, such as older adults with poor teeth and swallowing problems, a multivitamin can help fill existing nutritional gaps.
86% of American adults regularly take a multivitamin, but only 24% of those adults have tested and reported a nutritional deficiency, according to the American Osteopathic Association.
Understanding your nutritional deficiencies is key to ensuring you don’t consume an excess of certain vitamins. “Although a basic multivitamin is probably safe, excessive amounts of vitamin A and beta-carotene can be harmful to the body,” says Dr. Crane.
However, specific groups can still benefit greatly from a multivitamin. For example, Dr. Crane recommends multivitamins for postmenopausal patients to help combat calcium, vitamin D, and iron deficiencies.
The best recommendation is a dialogue with your doctor to discuss your nutritional needs. A healthy, balanced diet is the optimal way to consume nutrients, vitamins and minerals. However, some supplements such as multivitamins can help fill in the gaps in your diet.
Before buying any supplement or vitamin, talk to your doctor. Together, you can find the best way forward and avoid overdoing it on vitamins.
Learn more about which vitamins you should include in your diet.