Who should take multivitamins?
- Women who are pregnant or trying to conceive - Folic acid is essential for producing and maintaining new cells and is important during early pregnancy when rapid cell division and growth are occurring. Taking folic acid also assists in the prevention of neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
- People on restrictive diets or those that have medical conditions - such as those with a poor appetite, very low calorie diet or food allergies may need a supplement. Other examples include vegetarian or vegan diets, avoidance or intolerance of milk or milk products, or those that eat fewer than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
A single daily multivitamin is usually safe. However, if you are taking a multivitamin with 100% or more (mega dose) of the recommended daily intake, you could be doing yourself some harm. Since much of our food is already fortified with vitamins and minerals, there is a risk of toxicity from very high doses of fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K. Your body can use only so much of every nutrient, and once you reach those limits, they're literally flushed from your body.
Do multivitamins make you healthier?
While a daily multivitamin is not essentially harmful, doctors and dietitians agree that there really is no substitute for a well- balanced diet. The main goal for people should be to improve overall diet as opposed to relying on supplements. Since vitamins and supplements are not regulated at the same level as food, it's important to know the source of what you're taking. Recommended intake varies, so before taking any supplements it's recommended that you consult your doctor first, particularly if you are already on medication.
Many people believe that taking a multivitamin will make up for the nutrition they miss out on due to their eating habits. In fact, for most people, the best way to get necessary vitamins is from a healthy, plant-heavy diet that's low in red meat and processed food.
References from the SIRC Collection:
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